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Sunday March 30, 2014


E Projects, plans in works will set Unicoi County up well for 2020 By BRAD HICKS Erwin Bureau Chief


Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

Paxton Place at the corner of S. Roan Street and State of Franklin Road in downtown Johnson City is completed and tenants are beginning to move in.

Growth continues in Johnson City, downtown revitalization is visible By NATHAN BAKER Press Staff Writer


ohnson City’s economy has largely been driven by health care and education for years, but Washington County Economic Development Council CEO Mitch Miller said focus could be again shifted toward manufacturing as those industries wane. The contributions of East Tennessee State University, Mountain States Health Alliance, Wellmont Health Systems and will remain the bedrock of the city’s financial stability, but Miller said both industries are facing a fair amount of uncertainty in the coming years. Health systems across the country are butting up against new and drastically different federal laws and funding sources, while colleges in the state are waiting to see if Gov. Bill Haslam’s higher-education initiatives are passes and how they will affect two- and four-year institutions. “One of things stood out to us when we were planning for down the road was there are so many changes in the health care industry, and we’re concerned with the things happening on federal level,” Miller said. “We’ve been looking for growth in manufacturing, and we’ve

been pretty successful recently.” Miller said several companies are closely eyeing some vacant manufacturing facilities in Johnson City and Washington County, which is definitely positive, but if most of the deals go through, the municipalities may soon need to look to building more business parks. “We could be in a position where we have no more buildre e feet ings over 100,000 square e busiavailable to show these a the nesses,” he said. “With all illl defiactivity coming in, we will eloping nitely want to look at developing v versify more parks to help us diversify our base.” ainty in Even with the uncertainty re est in education, ETSU’s interest p pportubranching out for other opportun with ng nities, chiefly its partnering lo ogical Tennessee Technological ch helors’ University to offer bachelors’ s degrees in engineering should boost enrollment. fferMiller said the new of offere the ings will definitely make w school more viable and will e ew be a boon to landing new ed d manufacturers that need skilled workers. e Efforts to revitalize n Johnson City’s downtown n area have also been w apparent in the last few on ns, years. At key intersections, ep pair city crews worked to repair kss and sidewalks and crosswalks p last year, and public and private

utilities workers performed upgrades to the aging infrastructure along South Roan Street. The city is also now well into its $30 million flood mitigation plan, which has already brought the demolition of buildings to make way for a massive detention pond and created Founders Park to help quell Brush Creek. The growth of attention from the municipality has brought with it investment from private

companies. In January, the Urban Redevelopment Alliance officially opened Paxton Place, a 26-unit apartment building at the intersection of East State of Franklin Road and South Roan Street. With the opening of the new apartments, the URA now manages 79 units downtown, which the business’ leaders said is a high-demand area. In January, Brandy McKinney, the company’s general manager and principal broker, said nearly all the apartments in Paxton Place were already rented, as were the URA’s managed properties on Tipton Street, in the Downtown Towers building and in the Olde Towne Lofts. Grant Summers, co-developer of the Tennessee National Bank building at East Main and Spring streets, said he’s betting that demand for residential space downtown will continue to grow. Under the name Nugen Developers, Summers and partner Seth Kincaid plan to install between 13 and 15 apartments in the old bank.

he year 2020 is on the horizon, and a slew of projects either under way or set to be undertaken by Unicoi County’s three governmental entities will shape the area over the next six years and, officials hope, well beyond. A major project currently being carried out by the town of Erwin is set to bring infrastructure and aesthetic improvements for years to come. The second phase of Erwin’s downtown revitalization project is now under way. This phase will cover the area along Main Avenue from Gay Street to Union Street and will include streetscape, utility and stormwater system improvements. Before actual construction on Phase II begins, flood mitigation work along Union Street, which is a component of the phase, must be completed. This mitigation project will route rainwater that crosses Elm Avenues and comes down Union Street into a box culvert. This culvert would take excess water down to Nolichucky Avenue, where it would be routed into a drainage system. Work on Phase II of the revitalization project is slated for completion by the first of October, just prior to the start of the 2014 Unicoi County Apple Festival. The estimated cost of the second phase of construction and associated Union Street flood mitigation is around $2 million. Phase III of the revitalization project, covering the area along Main Avenue from Unicoi Street to and along Love Street to the Church

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

The first phase of Erwin’s downtown revitalization project is nearly complete. Street intersection, may begin the week after the Apple Festival this October and is slated for completion early next year. After this, work may begin to upgrade other side streets throughout town. Erwin Town Recorder Glenn Rosenoff said the revitalization project, like other endeavors undertaken by the town, was done with long-term impact in mind. He said the town could reap the benefits of economic development brought on by the project in the short-term, but the project is an investment the town has made in itself with future decades in mind. “Before I ever came here, I was excited about this place, because if a town is not investing in itself, how do we expect the businesses and the

 See ERWIN, Page 15E

 See JOHNSON CITY, Page 32E Chef Tim Swinehart has opened Buffalo Street Downtown Deli at 109 Buffalo St. in downtown Johnson City.

Jonesborough building for the future By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer


ith more than a dozen commercial, public works and state road construction projects under way or soon to begin in Jonesborough, a steady stream of updates will be taking shape in the old town beginning this spring and continuing over the next several years. First on the slate of new additions coming soon to Tennessee’s oldest town is the rebuilt Roadrunner Shell station with its new Dunkin’ Donuts shop now open at the U.S. Highway 11E and Boone Street gateway to the downtown historic district. On the request of the town leaders, the station is tucked away behind enhanced landscaping features on Boone Street. Its gas pumps have been relocated to the back of the store and a strip of natural buffering was added to separate the market from the nearby town hall property. At the other end of Boone Street, a year-round indoor farmers market operated by the nonprofit Jonesborough Farmers Market organization is expected to be doing business in long empty former Exxon station near Main Street before the end of the year. Town and inmate work crews completed a new brick plaza with iron railing and off-street parking outside the future Boone

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

The new Dunkin’ Donuts and Roadrunner Market in Jonesborough opened recently. Street Market last fall and will soon return to begin the interior demolition needed for the building’s renovation. While the market’s development is dependent on grant funding yet to be secured, Town Administrator Bob Browning expressed confidence the market will become a reality in 2014. Meanwhile, town and prison crews are making good progress on a new northern leg of the Persimmon Ridge Linear Trail and the new Golden Oak Park that will serve as its trailhead. The section of trail has been graded and gravelled. Rest rooms for the park’s picnic pavilion are under roof. The pavilion’s canopy and playground equipment are on order. And sometime this summer,

Browning said, its custom built play equipment will go up. At the southern end of the trail, the town has secured easements needed for a redesign of the Persimmon Ridge Road and West Main Street intersection that for many years has made it difficult for large trucks to navigate its less than 90-degree angle and by-pass the downtown historic district. And further west along Main Street, the state is expected to begin construction of the new roundabout traffic circle going in at the notoriously dangerous Five Points intersection as soon as weather permits. Expansion of the town’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, located within sight of Five Points just off West Main Street on Sabine Drive, was completed

late last year. A six-mile extension of the plant’s out fall lines that will carry its effluents away from Little Limestone Creek and on to the much larger Nolichucky River is expected to be complete within a few months. Improvement of an existing wastewater transfer station at Persimmon Ridge Park is also under way and when complete, the multi-phase project will more than double the town’s wastewater treatment capacity and with it the capacity of the Washington County Industrial Park in Telford that it serves. Large strides also are being made to improve Jonesborough’s water system and rein in the town’s long running and costly water loss problem. In the past two years, the town has built three new intake pumps and two new sedimentation basins and is now nearing completion of the second of the seven phase waterline replacement project. On the east side of downtown, ground was broken in November on a spacious new Jonesborough Senior Center on Longview Drive. While severe winter weather delayed the center’s construction significantly, the new building is expected to come out of the ground quickly this spring and, with good luck, to be ready to occupy by Christmas or early next year. Further out on Jonesborough’s horizon is a streetscape improvement project that calls for all utilities to go underground and new sidewalks to be installed


Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Elizabethton leaders plan to address pedestrian needs, residential development By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief


he Elizabethton of 2020 should be a city that is more pedestrian and bicycle friendly and one with strong links between a reviving downtown and a growing commercial development along West Elk Avenue and the Watauga riverfront. These are some of the things Elizabethton Planning Director Jon Hartman and Elizabethton City Manager Jerome Kitchens see when they discuss future plans for the city. “Hopefully, I would like to see the downtown renovation going on and the downtown business improvement district in place,” Hartman said. The improvement district would take fees paid by the downtown property owners and use them for improvements to the downtown area. Another hope is for more opportunities to live in the downtown area. The Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission began discussing

the need for encouraging downtown residential development during its February meeting. The Planning Committee was tasked with studying the need and reporting to the Commission in April. Planning Commission Chairman Paul Bellamy said in February that the city had a lot of potential for downtown residential development and he said the city should promote that development. Kitchens attended the February meeting and told the commission that more residences are needed downtown. He said there are concerns to be addressed but asked the commission to be flexible. Kitchens recently discussed the residential needs of the city and said there are not a lot of upscale residential options currently available in the city for affluent people interested in moving to Elizabethton. Hartman said some of the potential future residential development could be the renovation of existing lofts above

 See ELIZABETHTON, Page 32E Page Design/Mike Murphy

Progress 2014

Page 2E, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Prep has begun at BMS for Battle at Bristol By JEFF BIRCHFIELD Press Sports Writer

BRISTOL — Preparations for the Battle at Bristol have begun. The football game between Tennessee and Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2016, more than two years away. Still, plenty of work is being done to transform the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” into the “World’s Largest Football Stadium,” expected to host 150,000 fans. “Everybody is so excited about it,” said Jerry Caldwell, Bristol Motor Speedway general manager. “We’re already having meetings, ordering different materials and are looking at different options. We finalized the materials needed for the field. We’re finalizing some of the different infield seating options and are looking at some of the big screen setups. It’s becoming part of our checklist just like a race weekend.” Those race weekends include the Food City 500 and the IRWIN Tools Night Race, the most popular single event on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tour. Still, the hype for the Tennessee and Virginia Tech game is unprecedented. The press conference to announce it was filled with fireworks and enough confetti to fill Times Square on New Year’s Day, while officials from BMS and the schools called it7 “The Biggest Football Game Ever.” Jerry Punch, the ESPN motorsports and college football commentator, doesn’t see it merely as hype. He expects the Battle at Bristol to rank among the biggest sporting events of all-time. “I’ve done BCS (National Championship) Games, the Sugar Bowl and the Orange Bowl,” Punch said. “To me, this event is going to have a BCS Game atmosphere, only bigger.” Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver added, “It’s a reality, as big as anything that’s ever happened in college football.” It was a long time coming, nearly two decades since BMS owner Bruton Smith first floated the idea of track president Jeff Byrd to the public. In 2005, Smith turned up the interest with a $20 million offer to both schools to host the game which was ultimately vetoed by then Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton. “I made an offer to the universities at the time and everything was fine except for the athletic director at Tennessee,”


An artist rendering of the Battle at Bristol field at Bristol Motor Speedway. Smith recalled. “The powers wanted it, but he didn’t want it. They went back and forth for a couple of years. They finally dismissed him so it came to life again in a different way. It’s much better for us because they want it and now we’re doing it. Now I understand Tennessee already has purchased over 100,000 tickets. The indication is it’s going to be very popular.” Even with a new athletic director at Tennessee in Dave Hart, there were still a lot of pieces put together for three different entities to work together. Bristol’s general manager is glad he was able to be a part of it. “I feel blessed to have been part of the team which pulled all of that together,” Caldwell said. “To have something that almost reached folklore status and has been talked about for so long, to see it come together and have the dream of Bruton Smith and Jeff Byrd come to fruition, it’s really special. When you reflect on that, you just say, ‘Wow.’ After

all these years of people asking if it’s true, to see it come to be is special.” The game is expected to shatter both the official NCAA attendance record of 115,109 set last September when host Michigan defeated Notre Dame, and the unofficial record for a college football game of 123,000 at Chicago’s Soldier Field in 1927 to see Notre Dame beat Southern California. While those involved in the Battle at Bristol obviously set the goal of breaking the record, the response from the fans has been outstanding. “I knew it was big for this area, but I never knew the response we would get nationally and internationally,” Caldwell said. “The demand for tickets exceeded my expectations.” The speedway is enjoying an ancillary effect from the announcement with an increased demand for NASCAR tickets. There has been a particular spike in season-ticket sales as Caldwell believes the August race will sell out either this

year or at least sometime in the next three years. From an operational standpoint, there haven’t been many surprises with the football game. Looking hard at the event started in late 2012. A lot of research was done on the front end as engineers were brought in to study its feasibility. The next step was working with track personnel to discuss all it would take to pull it off. Immediately following the August 2016 NASCAR race at the track, approximately 400 workers will begin the process to get the facility ready. The turf and field build is to be completed in eight days with around 8,500 tons of rock to be used to build the base of the field. There are still more challenges unique to the game of football. “We’ve heard all the possible challenges of pulling it off,” Caldwell said. “We had to look at those. What is the field really going to cost? What does it cost to remove the (scoring) pylon from the

infield? Where can seats and locker rooms go? We had to answer all those to get a good feel of expenses and logistics on the front end.” As for other operations, hosting the “biggest football game ever” really isn’t much different from hosting the most popular NASCAR races. “The business we’re in is motorsports and entertainment, and this is an extension of that,” Caldwell said. “It’s another sporting event and the X’s and O’s aren’t really that different, putting on any kind of major event.” It won’t be the first football game ever held at the speedway. An estimated crowd of 8,500 watched the defending NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Washington Redskins 17-10 in a 1961 preseason game. There is expected to be more than 15 times that many people on hand to see the college football powers collide. The head coaches can hardly wait. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer is a huge NASCAR fan, attending Bristol races since he was a teenager. He even took part in a celebrity Pro-Am race at Bristol in 2009 as a temamate of threetime NASCAR champion Cale Yarborough. He also loves the fact BMS and the city of Bristol represent a halfway point between the two schools. “The setting is perfect with half of Bristol in Tennessee and half in Virginia,” said Beamer, the winningest active coach in college football with 266 victories. “It took a lot of planning with the people at the race track and the administrations working together. I think a lot of (Tennessee head coach) Butch (Jones) and the way he’s doing the program at Tennessee. There’s a lot of respect for each other and it took a lot of working together. It’s great to be a part of it.” Jones got his first taste of BMS as the grand marshal of the 2013 Food City 500. The new Tennessee coach immediately turned his thoughts to playing a football game inside the massive auto racing facility. Months later, they were more than just thoughts with actual plans in place to be a part of “The Biggest Football Game Ever.” “I’m very excited for our football players, our great fan base, our university and the entire Vol Nation to be a part of history,” Jones said. “This is something big not just for football, but the whole sporting world and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

Football at ETSU a work in progress By KELLY HODGE Press Managing Sports Editor

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Milligan Village, the newest residence hall community at Milligan College.

Growth leads to new residence halls at Milligan By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

Milligan College celebrated something this past fall that it had not celebrated for 20 years: the opening of a new residence hall. To make it even better, it was not just the opening of one hall, but five. The five buildings are the first phase of the Milligan Housing Village, which is transforming the student living experience on campus. The village is designed to combine the privacy of a suite with the college’s vibrant community life. Each suite will house up to five students. A suite has five bedrooms and three bathrooms revolving around a centralized living room. Each suite has a full kitchen. A total of 90 students will live in the village as it currently stands. There will be one male and one female resident advisor in the village. The demand for the new village was made possible by the growth in enrollment in the Christian college from 800 to 1,200 since 2002. Village residency is restricted to junior and senior residents who have lived on campus for at least one year. The five buildings surround a greenspace where outdoor events will be held, including intramural games. There is also a sand volleyball court and picnic tables. The five buildings are the first phase of a plan to build a total of 12 residence halls, each housing 20 students. The buildings will be

constructed as funds become available. Once completed, the entire housing project will take Milligan’s on-campus housing capacity from 600 beds to approximately 800 beds. The funds to build the first phase were made possible by the largest single gift ever received by Milligan. Richard and Leslie Gilliam of Charlottesville, Va., committed more than $4.7 million toward the site preparation and construction. The Gilliams also donated the funds for construction of Milligan’s Wellness Center. They also support an endowment scholarship in memory of Richard’s father, Marvin, who was a 1936 graduate of Milligan. “We are deeply grateful for the Gilliam family’s continued investment in Milligan College and Christian higher education,” said Milligan College President Bill Greer during the dedication ceremony in October for the new residence halls. One of the nice things about dedicating five new buildings is that it gave the college a chance to honor people who have made significant contributions to the college by naming the residence halls after them. The first building is named for Don and Clarinda Jeanes, who served as Milligan’s 14th president and first lady. Under Jeanes’ leadership, the college enjoyed new growth and development. During his presidency, the college acquired the land for the future expansion of the campus. Mrs. Jeanes formed the Associated Ladies for Milligan.

Hampton Hall is named for two Milligan professors, Roy and Wanda Lee Hampton. The Hamptons met on campus and served at the college for 17 years. After retirement in 1992, they continued as supporters and advocates. Three of their grandchildren graduated from Milligan and another is enrolled there. McAnally Hall is named for retired school teacher Ruth McAnally who worked with Mrs. Jeanes in the Johnson City School System. In later years, the Jeanes cared for McAnally, who was the oldest member of First Christian Church when she died at the age of 101. McAnally was a lifetime member of the Associated Ladies for Milligan and left her estate to the college. Pardee Hall was named for a former residence hall and its denizens, known as the Pardee Rowdies. The original Pardee Hall was named for Calvin Pardee, the owner of the Cranberry Iron and Coal Co. and supporter of Milligan College for many years. Wigginton Hall is named for Gene and Shirley Wigginton. Mr. Wigginton came to Milligan as director of development in 1971. He later served as executive vice president and helped lead the college through a tough financial period. The couple left the college in 1983, where Mr. Wiggington began a career as publisher for Standard Publishing. The Wiggingtons continued to support the college and Mrs. Wiggington served as a lifetime member and supporter for the Associated Ladies for Milligan.

Few topics involving East Tennessee State University have stirred the emotions over the last decade like football. Ever since the program was dropped in 2003 over financial concerns, after eight decades of competition, there were cries in some quarters for its return. Opponents argued just as passionately. Brian Noland couldn’t help but notice the interest when he became ETSU’s new president in January 2012, and he set out to explore the possibilities. Last April, Noland announced that football would indeed be making a comeback. “Today’s about celebrating the university,” he told a packed crowd in the Culp Center ballroom. “Today’s about dreaming big dreams. Today’s about elevating ETSU, because that’s what football has the opportunity to do, to elevate every aspect of this university. … “Today is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life.” The Bucs will return to the

field in 2015, and already have a date and opponent for their opener: Sept. 3 against Kennesaw State, another school starting football from scratch. The face of the ETSU program since last June has been Carl Torbush, a former head coach at North Carolina and renowned defensive coordinator at several high-profile schools. A very prominent consultant was also brought on board to help with the building process: former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer. Torbush, who grew up in Knoxville and was a two-sport star at Carson-Newman College, has been working with a skeleton crew so far. His only assistants are defensive coordinator Billy Taylor and defensive backs coach Teddy Gaines. Taylor is a Morristown native who captained the Bucs as a linebacker in 1987. Gaines, a Kingsport native, played at Tennessee and professionally in the NFL, NFL Europe and CFL. Together the staff has scoured the region for talent, selling its plans for the future, and produced its first recruiting class in early February. A group of 46 players, including 34 from Tennessee, was introduced on national signing day in front of a

large gathering of supporters at the Millennium Center. “Today’s announcement of our first recruiting class continues to build the excitement that surrounds the ETSU football program,” said Torbush. “The work put in by our football staff — in particular assistant coaches Billy Taylor and Teddy Gaines — has been remarkable. It’s been impressive to secure this many commitments with a start-up program.” Plans for a new 10,000-seat, $18 million stadium on campus are ongoing. University officials have yet to decide on its location — two tracts on the west end of campus have been identified — but hope to be playing there in 2016. The team is expected to play its first season at Kermit Tipton Stadium, home of Science Hill High School. There will also be some action this fall against club teams as a lead-in to a second recruiting class and spring practice in 2015. The return of football has also put ETSU on a different conference path. The Bucs will leave the Atlantic Sun after nine years as a member and return to the Southern, their home of 26 years, on July 1.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Faith in the Future

Nonprofits expand to meet greater need By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

A couple of Northeast Tennessee’s nonprofit health and human services broadened their horizons in 2013 with expansions aimed at meeting a larger portion of the local need. Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee’s move to its new 113,000-square-foot distribution center in Kingsport was the largest and potentially the most beneficial of those expansions. Located in the former Sam’s Club building just off Airport Parkway, the new facility with its 6,500 square feet of freezer cooler space immediately landed the regional food bank the delivery of 36 tractor trailertruck loads of surplus frozen chicken allotted to Tennessee by the U.S. Department Agriculture. With no space available for the USDA surplus available at any other food bank in Tennessee, the chicken came to the new Second Harvest warehouse between November to February and was divvied out to the 200 community-based pantries and feeding agencies in the eight county region assisted by the food bank. “We were able to take that because of the additional freezer and cooler space we have ... that’s all going to go to families, seniors and children in Northeast

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

The grand opening of the new Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee distribution center in Kingsport took place in February. Tennessee,” said Rhonda Chafin, executive director of the regional food bank, soon after the food bank’s move to the new facility. Bob Aiken, president and CEO of the national Feeding America food bank network and guest of honor at the facility’s dedication ceremony in December, said the larger, more modern facility “will not only enable the Second Harvest to provide more meals to people in need, it will provide space to develop programs and services that will strengthen food security in communities across Northeast Tennessee.”

Also on the move to expand its capacity to serve, Family Promise of Greater Johnson City, a network of churches that helps homeless families with children across the Tri-Cities regain their independence, last year announced a strategic five-year initiative to double the number of families it assists. Dubbed Family Promise 2X, the initiative was launched last year with an initial goal of doubling the number of local church congregations that partner to provide emergency shelter and a wide range of support services

that allow parents and children to stay together as they work their way back under their own roof. Brian Rosecrance, who served 14 years as executive director of the local Family Promise affiliate prior to his retirement in December, said at any given time there are 10 to 15 homeless families on the agency’s waiting list, or two to three times the number of families the network currently has the capacity to shelter. “The premise of 2X is a times two building of the network to become twice as large as it is,” he said. Since the launch of the 2X initiative, the network has grown to include more than three dozen host and support churches in three area counties, and more than 1,000 volunteers who help provide meals, transportation, mentoring and fellowship for families who are sheltered in the host churches as they work, attend school and save the money needed to once again provide a home of their own. Agnes Samples, who replaced Rosecrance as executive director late last year, said in addition to increasing the Family Promise network of local churches, the 2X initiative will, in time, address the capacity of other aspects of the program, including the day center located in a small home adjacent to the agency’s offices on West Fairview Avenue and the fleet of vehicles that play a critical role in helping the families regain their independence.

Mountain Home VA Medical Center makes improvements to better serve veterans

Johnson City Press, Page 3E

Robinson Animal Hospital settles in at third location By TONY CASEY Press Staff Writer

Opening in the coldest months of the year is a tough task for any business, but the staff at the new Peoples Street location of the Robinson Animal Hospital are welcoming the slow start. Dr. James Robinson said a Jan. 6 opening was good, so his new location could test things out and get their footing before the busier, warmer times come along later in the year. “We’ve been doing pretty well,” Robinson said. “I’m encouraged by the business we’ve had since opening.” The north Johnson City location makes three spots for Robinson Animal Hospitals. The reason for opening this newest clinic was to fill a need for a local animal hospital after the closing of Banfield Pet Hospital in April 2013. According to a Mitch Cox Companies story by David Schools, Robinson works at the clinic with his wife, Kim, and eight technician assistants. The new building and design offers an attractive and welcoming environment for people interested in bringing in their pets. When the design was planned with Mitch Cox’s construction team, Robinson said the layout was very nearly perfect, saying there were only two or so changes he made. The location is very beneficial, too, said Robinson. “It’s a good central location on Peoples Street with great

exposure,” said Robinson. The 3,700 square feet of new space gives the award-winning animal clinic a chance to show off state-of-the-art technology in veterinary facility features, four new exam rooms, and separate cat and dog waiting rooms. With such a close proximity to PetSmart up the road, Robinson said he will benefit from the new location. “Because of the new location,” he said, “I am very close in case of emergency if a pet gets sick or injured.” As for an increase of business expected as the year progresses, he said it’s normal to only see a few dental and spay appointments at this time of year. Robinson said he was looking at the board in the clinic and is happy to see his workload as full as it is. The seasons change everything, and when August rolls around, Robinson expects animals to be brought in with skin issues, as is always the case. Aside from new neutral colors with splashes of blues and greens picked by his wife, Robinson said the windows have had a dramatic effect on the feel of the clinic, being able to look out and see the mountains in the background and the busy flow of traffic on State of Franklin Road. The clinic boasts itself as the only veterinarian location open on Sunday afternoons in the entire Tri-Cities region. Clinic hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, and 12-5 p.m. on Sundays. They can be reached at 218-1305.

By BECKY CAMPBELL Senior Reporter


The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Mountain Home opened its doors for patients 110 years ago and is still going strong today to provide quality medical care for veterans. And while there have been improvements to the campus since it opened, the building layout has remained so consistent that a soldier from the early 1900s who had been there could still find their way around today, said Judy Fowler Argo, public information officer. One improvement in the works is a parking garage planned for a spot behind the domiciliary. “It’s in design this year,” Argo said. “It will be located at the back of the domiciliary and we’ll start building 2015 or 2016.” Parking on the VA campus is at a premium with students and outpatients always needing to be there. To help alleviate the problem for veterans, the VA created a valet parking for veterans who have an appointment at the hospital,” she said. It works just like any other valet system. The patient drives up to the hospital entrance, hands over their keys to a worker, gets a ticket and their vehicle is driven to a distant parking lot. When their appointment is over, the patient turns in their ticket and their vehicle is delivered. “More people can park ... it’s been awesome,” and saves veterans from having to walk so far, Argo said. Technically located in Mountain Home, which has it’s own post office and ZIP code, most people connect the VA to Johnson City. The city surrounds Mountain Home, making it an island, of sorts. But the Mountain Home VA system isn’t confined to that island, Argo said. “We serve East Tennessee,” and parts of Virginia, she said. “Our coverage area goes down to Oak Ridge. We just picked up Knoxville 2008, which had been in the Nashville district prior to that.” To better serve patients in the far-flung district, the VA has six smaller clinics — in Knoxville, Sevierville, Morristown and Rogersville in Tennessee and, Norton and Bristol in Virginia. A seventh clinic is almost ready to open in Campbell County, she said. “We serve about 55,000 within our system (including) hospitals and clinics. We’re running five operating rooms and recently added a vascular surgeon and neurothoracic surgeon. We’re growing,” Argo said. And it couldn’t come at a better time, with more veterans taking advantage of the VA medical system every day, and depending on when those veterans served, service-related issues vary. “Our Vietnam people came back exposed to agent orange. They have their own set of issues they deal with,” Argo said. “Each war has something significant. Every war has a unique feature of resulting dis-

Mahoney’s has been a family-owned expert on the outdoors since it first opened 54 years ago. That same family atmosphere and friendly service won’t change, no matter what does in the area. The family-owned business that has been at the corner of Sunset Drive and Knob Creek Road since its inception will be there for years to come. At Mahoney’s, they love the outdoors just as much as their customers and they stand behind all their products 100 percent. Mahoney’s is prepared to deal with incoming competition by providing products from companies that are pioneering in the newest designs and technologies to meet their customer’s needs. As the “big-box” companies begin to lug their way into the Tri-Cities and suck dollars from locallyowned businesses, Mahoney’s will continue to maintain the highest levels of customer

service and personal relationships that has helped create the bond of customer trust for decades. Mahoney’s saw significant growth in 2013 as they continued to expand with new products in the footwear and clothing departments from brands geared toward specialty retailers. Mahoney’s has had roots in the community for over a half a century and understands the importance of giving back to an area that has provided so much for them. That is why they have supported countless region-wide events, programs, and charities with donations, volunteers and sponsorships. 830 Sunset Drive Johnson City, TN 37604 (423) 282-5413 1-800-835-5152

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Elizabethton National

A free valet parking service for patients is now available weekdays at the Mountain Home VA Medical Center campus. ease and (ongoing symptoms). Operation Enduring Freedom: these (veterans) have a lot of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). “We’ve increased our mental health services,” to address the increase of veterans with PTSD, she said. “We have a crisis line that’s manned 24/7, and we also have a suicide prevention coordinator.” Argo said the VA provides a continuum of care for veterans. “A lot also have injuries that would have killed someone in earlier wars. We have a continuum of care. If they have a really bad injury, there are four hospitals they can go to for acute care. We have a sister hospital in Kentucky for a higher level than here, from there they come here for outpatient services.” One of the most recent advancements for the VA is telemedicine. It saves a lot of travel time for veterans seeking services, Argo said.

The way it works, a veteran goes to the clinic closest to where they live and they can communicate with a physician or therapist via video. “We use it a lot for mental health,” Argo said. “Instead of driving all the way here for an appointment, they go to the clinic office,” and have a conversation with their therapist, she said. “We’ve had telemedicine for a while, but we really expanded it to all the areas of the clinics in the last couple of years. Every time we open a clinic now we add that capacity.” The VA now has a cardiac cath unit on campus so patients don’t need to go to Johnson City Medical Center for those procedures. Doctors there put in stents and other less invasive procedures, but heart operations are still done at JCMC or at the VA hospital in Nashville. Argo said she is proud of several awards and recognitions the VA has received, including

an award last year for outstanding performance and service above the call of duty, as well as the Tennessee Performance Excellence award. “Patient safety is one of our priorities. At the VA, we provide health care, but we also have a mission for education and research,” and provide training for hundreds of physicians, nurses, social workers, audiologists, pharmacists and chaplains. Last year, 955 people in those fields had training at the facility. The VA in Mountain Home is also a celebrated national monument, Argo said. For more information about the VA, visit the website at

Baseball & Softball League Offers the opportunity to play baseball and softball to boys & girls ages 5 to 12 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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Progress 2014

Page 4E, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Founders Park will offer greenspace, insurance against downtown flooding By GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

The former train depot in downtown Johnson City is being converted into Tupelo Honey Cafe.

Depot building offers character to Johnson City’s Tupelo Honey Cafe By NATHAN BAKER Press Staff Writer

Renovations are in full swing at Johnson City’s historic CC&O Railroad Depot in preparation for the arrival of Asheville, N.C.’s Tupelo Honey Cafe, but the opening of the restaurant has again been delayed at the station. Marketing Director Elizabeth Sims said in February that the 104-year-old train depot has been slow to accept change, but the company is now expecting a midto late-May debut. “It’s a challenging building,” she said from the still-empty freight bay where the eatery will soon take shape. “To take this building and turn it into a restaurant is a tall order.” Before the space was turned over to Tupelo Honey, Scott Rainey, president of Rainey Contracting, said his workers discovered a larger than expected amount of rot in the bay’s roof, setting the project back a month or two. Now that crews for local contractor Mitch Cox Companies have taken over to finish the space for the restaurant, Sims said electricians are running wiring and preparing the space to move in all the needed furniture and fixtures. Eventually, the Johnson City Tupelo Honey will have an open performance kitchen in the center of the bay, with a prep kitchen on the side closest to Buffalo Street. The main entrance will be on the opposite end, near the outdoor platform, where some alfresco dining and a fireplace will be set up. The bar is planned on the same side as the entrance door with a special, Johnson City-specific display. Sims said Fred Alsop, director of East Tennessee State University’s George L. Carter Railroad Museum, has been commissioned to oversee the building of a working model showing off the city’s railroad heritage. Alsop said the 16-feet-by-3-feet model affixed to a community table where bar patrons can wait, will have five moving trains representing the Clinchfield, Southern and East Tennessee and North Carolina (Tweetsie) railroads, all transportation companies that served the city during the railroad boom. The model will also have trolleys and many of downtown Johnson City’s recognizable historical landmarks, including the depot in which the restaurant is taking up residence. “A lot of the buildings we’ll make as accurate as we can, but with the specific size of the table, we might have to take some

The developers are keeping the train theme and character of the building. artistic license,” Alsop said. “Hopefully it will look enough like Johnson City for people to be able to recognize it.” A team of his fellow model railroad enthusiasts are logging many hours perfecting the little “Little Chicago,” he said. Like its other locations in Asheville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Charlotte, N.C., and Greenville, S.C., Sims said the dining room will feature a local flavor with memorabilia and photographs designed to tell Johnson City’s narrative. The dining space will seat approximately 230 people, Sims said, and will employ between 80 and 100 workers. While parking in the downtown area is at a premium, there should be enough for those diners, even during the rushes. Parking lots adjacent to the depot and across Buffalo are open to patrons, and Sims said a neighboring building owner has offered the use of his lot as overflow during off-business hours. Although it’s presented its challenges, Sims said building in the century-old depot was the right move for Tupelo Honey. “It’s a wonderful structure,” she said. “It’s already got so much personality, we really don’t need to do a whole lot to make it interesting.” A central part of Johnson City’s downtown revitalization, the Southern fusion restaurant landed on the depot location two summers ago, planning for a fall 2013 opening. Sevierville attorney and entrepreneur Joe Baker purchased the historic depot from the Johnson City Development Authority in 2012 for $5,000. With the local location online, the chain’s stable will include seven restaurants, in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Greenville, S.C., Charlotte and two in Asheville.

Completion of Johnson City’s 5-acre, $5 million Founders Park project along West State of Franklin Road is one high point in a series of projects in a roughly $30 million long-term flood mitigation plan. First identified years ago by the city’s Downtown Stormwater Task Force and the Washington County Economic Development Council as necessary to help alleviate flooding problems at various sections of Brush Creek, the park’s overall value to the community is much more than moving water. “The nice thing about it is it’s open space for downtown, and I expect you’ll see a lot of people out and about here,” said Public Works Director Phil Pindzola. “What people will have to do is adjust to the venue. It’s critical for downtown to have a place for events. Developers and existing businesses love it.” The new stone walls enable the opened creek to carry much more water during heavy rain events. But the project also serves other purposes, including a new downtown greenspace area where some of the park’s more visual and useful components begin at the park’s midpoint and continue north, including cascading waterfalls. Five-ton stones support a channel and pipe that collects and deposits runoff from the Tree Streets into the creek at about the midway point. Sidewalks circle the park, and visitors can enter the park at

three main locations: Tipton Street, where underground utilities are going in and extra parking is being created; Sevier Street; and via a sidewalk that connects the coming Farmers Market and what used to be a section of Wilson Avenue. Tupelo Honey has donated art that will be placed at the two ends of the park, and there will be plazas at either end. Underground wiring has been installed at and around the new amphitheater and light poles are on the way that will illuminate a large area. The Johnson City Public Art Committee is very near the lease of 14 to 15 sculptures that will be positioned throughout the park. At the end of the park nearest downtown, sidewalks encircle the amphitheater, which includes a concrete stage roughly 30 feet in diameter. A new bridge has been placed on the south side of the creek, and it’s easy to envision visitors standing there, on the sidewalks, on the stone walls, on the new grass banks and in the amphitheater during various events. Thomas Construction is the project’s general contractor, and the estimated final cost for construction is about $2.8 million. When engineering, permitting and property acquisition is figured in, the total estimated cost is about $5 million. The task force was formed in 2007, and the site was one of the very first targeted for major repairs. Two years ago, the city issued about $6 million in debt to begin this project and to pay for peripheral flood mitigation projects, such as the McClure Street sump and the Boone Street deten-

Cook’s Mechanical Services Cook’s Mechanical Services is a single source solution for all of your HVAC needs. They offer a wide array of services that are designed to help facilities operate efficiently and economically. First opening their doors in the Tri-Cities 29 years ago, they’ve been on call ever since waiting to tackle any problems that might be had with HVAC repairs. Their growing business has required them to hire seven new employees since last year and has allowed them to see a growth in sales of $600,000 over the same time. This is only the beginning for their business over the next five years as they begin to tackle the newest technology in the field. Building automations are the next big thing for the consumer, which is a convenient way for a business to control their lighting, alarm systems, and thermostats all from their phone or

computer from anywhere in the world. CMS, as they are known, doesn’t grow without the community’s support, which is something they know. That’s why they have given thousands of dollars to local charities like the Shriners, Boys and Girls Club, Dawn of Hope and Young Life. They’ve also sponsored many community service projects like an Eagle Scouts project at Wheeler United Methodist Church and other sponsorships with local sporting teams and schools. They know they wouldn’t be here without you. For more information on CMS, visit their website at or give them a call at (423) 323-2665. P.O. Box 701 Blountville, TN 37617 (423) 323-2665

Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

Founders Park construction is nearing the end with an improved waterway for Brush Creek. tion pond, using money from stormwater fee revenues to carry the load. Don Mauldin, Knoxville’s Lamar Dunn & Associates’ executive vice president and lead consultant/engineer for the city’s $30 million long-range flood mitigation plan, had his first conversation with commissioners about flooding in 2008. In 2009, he rolled out refined and reconfigured plans of the overall project a number of times.

Prior to the City Commission’s vote in 2012 to start on Founders Park, Mauldin explained how a large box culvert underneath a large concrete slab at the site would be opened to reduce the current dramatic downward rate at which it flows. In addition, the new configuration reveals an open creek with waterfalls that drop water in 2-foot increments. “This will allow Brush Creek to flood but not get out of its banks,” he said at the time.

Dempsey’s Jewelers This family-owned jewelry store had its beginning in 1976 when Dempsey himself created a jewelry repair shop. In 1993, he opened a retail store on Knob Creek Road. Having outgrown that location, Dempsey’s moved into their current location at 3018 Peoples Street in 2009. Service is always paramount at Dempsey’s. Whether you are purchasing that special diamond engagement ring, having a piece custom made, or having your family heirloom repaired, they put personal attention into each piece. They take great pride in their attention to detail. Over the past years, Dempsey’s has strived to keep state of the art equipment in both the repair shop and in the custom design center. They offer unparalleled resources in their custom jewelry design center. The possibilities are endless when it comes to design potential. CAD CAM designing and 3D printing of waxes is available onsite.

They design, they carve, or grow your own wax model; they finish and set your stones... all in their facilities. Dempsey’s displays a wonderful array of hand-selected, unique jewelry. Some of the quality designer lines include Simon G, Pandora, Le Vian, Galatea, Mastoloni, Benchmark, Tissot, and many more! You will also find Dempsey’s own jewelry designs created right here in Johnson City. In 2013, Dempsey’s was voted the #1 Jewelry Store in the Johnson City Press for the fourth year in a row. They also added one Full-time employee, now totaling 13 employees. These include two GIA diamond graduates, four full-time bench jewelers, and one full-time CAD designer. Sincerity and friendliness abound, and your business is always appreciated , regardless of the transaction. Trust, honesty, professionalism, and confidence are evident at Dempsey’s. This is the Dempsey’s Difference.

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Sinking Creek revitalization brings new park By TONY CASEY Bill Francisco, a founder and organizer behind a project to clean up the Sinking Creek wetlands and open a park off King Springs Road, was greatly affected by E. coli bacteria about 10 years ago when his 6-year-old son, Jacob, died after E. coli contamination. He’s worked with many groups to get the 28-acre Sinking Creek area cleaned up, to promote flowing, safe water. Working with the Boone Watershed Partnership, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and local individuals, Francisco set a goal of the park to serve as tool to educate people of the dangers of stagnant water, citing his son’s situation. He hopes students will visit an information board at the site to learn about that type of wetland ecosystem. Connie Deegan, with Johnson City Parks and Recreation, says she has plans to open up the area for trails. This has given Deegan’s interns a chance to work, and, as Deegan put it, “emphasize the cool features of the park.”

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Johnson City Press, Page 5E

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After path clearing, bridges along the Tweetsie Trail will have to be made safe for pedestrian use.

Tweetsie Trail rolls on through By TONY CASEY Press Staff Writer

Just like the railroad it was named after, the Tweetsie Trail project has rolled on with constant progress since the idea came about to turn the 10-mile stretch of former railroad line from Johnson City to Elizabethton into a recreational trail. The first section of the trail, or Phase 1, begins on Alabama Street, just southeast of the downtown area, and is projected to go well into Elizabethton. The big goal is to have it completed by Labor Day weekend. After more phases are completed, including tie-ins to neighboring historical and recreational sites, the trail will ultimately end near Snap-On Tools in Elizabethton. To hold true to the area’s rich railroad history, and trail organizers’ easy access to railroad materials, like ties, mile markers and images, the goal will be to mix in an emphasis on exercise while sprinkling in local history. Jon Reynolds, a distance runner in Johnson City and president of the State of Franklin Track Club, said he

couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of having a safe, flat, soft trail right here in the area, as well as having railroad history with it. “This is going to be a fantastic resource for the running community,” Reynolds said. “It’s going to be a magnet for many neighboring cities and towns. I grew up in the area, and the Tweetsie is a part of my childhood.” One of the biggest hurdles jumped by the Rails to Trails Task Force that was assembled with city support was getting the name they wanted for the trail. With North Carolina’s Tweetsie Railroad amusement park less than two hours away, the task force sought to choose a name that would be sufficient to hold the trail’s theme while also not stepping on any toes. Good news came after task force member Steve Darden contacted the amusement park, who quickly responded back, saying Johnson City’s recreational trail could use the Tweetsie name as long as it wasn’t “Tweetsie Railroad.” With that wind in their sails, the task force picked the obvious choice, “Tweetsie Trail.” Almost as soon as that

 See TWEETSIE, Page 6E

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Johnson City Police School Resource Officer David Holtsclaw high-fiving South Side Elementary students.

Protecting students is priority for SROs By BECKY CAMPBELL Senior Reporter

School safety has always been an issue for education leaders, but with the uprising in school shootings over the past few years, it’s become even more important. The first line of trained defense for schools is a School Resource Officer. Washington County law enforcement recently has received approval to hire more SROs for county schools and has taken that even further to provide free training to teachers about what to do and how to react in a crisis situation. The initial training for an armed intruder incident occurred last year with 60 county teachers becoming the first educators in the country to learn how to protect themselves and students. The training came through the Washington County Sheriff’s Office after officers there were trained by a Florida security and tactical training group. Through the training, teachers learned techniques of barricading their classroom against an intruder and escape routes to get students out of harm’s way instead of waiting for rescue. Last year, Sheriff Ed Graybeal

pushed for funding to add 10 SROs for the current school year. He didn’t get the full bounty, but the County Commission did agree to fund three new SROs for each of the next three years. Three have already started for the current school year, which took the total number for the county to 10 SROs. By the time the plan is fully implemented, there will be 16 SROs in the county. Johnson City police also recently increased its number of SROs through a federal grant. “We had six before we got a new COPS grant, and that added four more. The ultimate goal would be to have 12 for all 12 schools,” said JCPD Capt. Steve Smith, who oversees the SRO program. Even though the city doesn’t yet have 12 SROs, Smith said every school is covered by an officer’s presence during the school day. “All the schools are covered. They have a rotating schedule,” and each school gets a visit from an SRO each day. “The number one goal is the safety and security of students, staff and parents when they’re at the school,” Smith said. In addition to a positive presence for students, SROs assist the

 See SRO, Page 6E

Progress 2014

Page 6E, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Grant brought groups together to target crime in Johnson City By BECKY CAMPBELL Senior Reporter

A three-year community crime reduction grant funded by a state grant is well on its way to providing services that range from crime prevention and mentoring for elementary age kids and teens to recidivism reduction services for people on probation. Johnson City received the $800,000 grant — Targeted Community Crime Reduction Project — administered through the police department, in April 2013. Johnson City was the seventh medium-sized city in the state to receive the grant, according to TCCRP Director Becky Haas. The targeted area includes Mountain Home and downtown Johnson City. Planning for the grant began a year prior and was no easy task considering all the agencies that partnered with the police department. “In 2012 ... the Johnson City Police Department undertook an extensive data driven planning process,” Haas said. The department reviewed crime data collected from 20072012 pertaining to drug-related and violent crimes occurring within Johnson City. After comparing city-wide with the proposed target area, it was determined that the Mountain Home/ downtown areas were the best candidate sites for applying the TCCRP strategy, she said. “The TCCRP design consists of taking a collaborative problemsolving approach, first, by determining local agencies that might be interested stakeholders in identifying solutions to the challenges faced in the community. Then, by brainstorming together,

SRO  Continued from Page 5E principal, school counselor, and teachers with any problems they may have during the day, he said. “They don’t get involved with school discipline, but they will assist the staff if they have a physically unruly student,” Smith said. City SROs also act as a liaison between the school system and juvenile court and periodically have a classroom presence when they teach on certain topics like teenage driving, drug activity and bullying. Smith said SROs have the opportunity to be a positive influence in a young student’s life. “(Students) see them at a younger age in a positive light,” which can help later in life, he said. “If you see (officers) early in a positive and helpful influence, then that relationship, hopefully, continues on in their adult life ... in elementary schools, they know it’s someone they can trust,” Street said. Funding SROs isn’t cheap, but the payoff is priceless, officials said. In the city, the salary budget for the 10 SROs runs around $400,000 a year. Then there is the cost of a police car and equipment. Even with the cost, “we think it more than pays for itself,” Smith said. “What you have to look at is the unknown factors of safety and what you may be preventing at that school. They handle a lot of situation that, if they weren’t there, a patrol unit would have to respond to it. The prevention, the safety, the relationships they make with the students and parents .... overall, most parents would tell you that just knowing a police officer is there, in today’s environment, it makes me feel better.”

these agencies plan and finally implement these interventions into the target area,” Haas said. “In Johnson City, the strategies centered around four interventions: pre-enforcement, enforcement, neighborhood revitalization and offender intervention.” A pre-enforcement program, Postive Action, is “an evidencebased curriculum for the local alternative high school program,” Haas said. “During the planning phase, it was determined that Positive Action would be provided as an after school program. As planning meetings continued, the opportunity arose to implement the program school-wide, making the alternative school the first high school in Tennessee to use the curriculum this extensively.” Goals in the program included reducing absences so students would be in the classroom more. “Since implementing Positive Action last August, the number of absences has been reduced by 15.8 percent,” she said. “Initial data suggests Positive Action has had a beneficial effect ... Also during this time, it was noted that last school year students received in-school or out-of-school discipline at a rate of two incidents per child compared to this year, in which students have received in-school or out-of-school discipline at a rate of only 1.6 incidents per child.” Also part of the pre-enforcement phase is Police And Teens Reaching Opportunities Together, or PATROL, which is a mentoring program for at-risk youth ages 9 to 16 who live in the Carver and Dunbar communities. “It encourages the children to set and achieve meaningful goals as well as assists young people in identifying personal talents, strengths and abilities, and works to rein-

force the positive application of these resources,” Haas said. In neighborhood revitalization, some projects are under way but others include home rehabilitation, cleaning up abandoned areas and a storefront art project. And last is the Day Reporting Center. “The mother lode of collaboration came when tackling the problem of reducing recidivism and designing an offender intervention strategy,” Haas said. “Once the targeted areas were defined, corrections agencies provided data to the police department that revealed 10 percent of residents living in these high crime areas were currently on probation or parole for crimes committed.” “As stakeholders met representing corrections agencies, members of law enforcement, mental health professionals and local judges, the idea was developed for creating a ‘one stop shop’ program for felony offenders that would address the individual’s criminogenic needs.” In June 2013, the Day Reporting Center opened to provide the community with a gender specific, high intensity, three-phase program where clients are court ordered to attend as an alternative to prison. The program provides job readiness training, parenting and relationship skills counseling and assistance with financial recovery. “The successful impact now being achieved by the Targeted Community Crime Reduction Project in Johnson City is largely due to resources that were not far away from the very areas with the greatest challenges. All it took was a vision, perseverance and getting stakeholders to the table to talk,” Haas said.

Tweetsie  Continued from Page 5E decision was made was the plan to buy the Internet domain name for around $1,500. Steep as it might have seemed, Marcus Ledbetter, the man tasked with building and designing the trail’s official website, said it would be worth it in the long run, since they would basically be building a brand name for the area. That brand name could immensely benefit local small businesses now and in the future. Initial plans were for Johnson City crews to start clearing the trail after the beginning of the year. True to task force projections, though, Johnson City’s Phil Pindzola led the clearing a few days ahead of schedule. At a recent announcement of a $25,000 donation from the Up & At ‘Em Johnson City Turkey Trot, task force chairman Dr. Dan Schumaier said six miles of the trail were already

cleared. After clearing will come the construction of benches, laying of crushed stone and work on bridges, railings and mile markers. With the website up and running, monetary contributions will begin to be the biggest issue in the upcoming months. Schumaier has confidently said that the project is well on pace to raise the necessary funding to complete all phases of construction within a few years. Schumaier’s team is currently working to link capabilities to the website where Internet users may direct donations to the project through PayPal. Donation mailers and efforts from the group’s members to target local business owners and citizens should also bring in extra money. The trail’s success in the past year could also reflect the success of the task force, that, Schumaier says, has been extremely competent in bringing the project together.

The City of Johnson City The City of Johnson City exhibited extensive growth in multiple public service divisions in 2013. As a government entity, the City of Johnson City saw both the initiation and the completion of several projects devised for the betterment of the city for its citizens. During 2013, the City of Johnson City developed a master plan and began construction of the Tweetsie Trail, a “Rails-to-Trails” project to connect the cities of Johnson City and Elizabethton. The City also began construction of Founder’s Park. In addition, enhancements were made to the City of Johnson City’s downtown streetscape in 2013. The City also completed Transit technology implementation to include text services and Google Transit Trip Planning. The City of Johnson City has grand plans

for 2014. The public service entity highly anticipates the continuation of growth and completion of city projects started in previous years. In 2014, the City of Johnson City will open Founder’s Park. The City also plans to open the first phase of the Tweetsie Trail. The City of Johnson City was founded in 1869. Principal officers are Pete Peterson, City Manager; Ralph Van Brocklin, Mayor; Clayton Stout, Vice Mayor; Jeff Banyas, Commissioner; Jenny Brock, Commissioner; David Tomita, Commissioner. The City of Johnson City employed approximately 900 people in 2013. 601 E. Main St., Johnson City, 37601 (423) 434-6249

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Front (top) and back drawings of the new Jonesborough Senior Center

New senior center rising in Jonesborough By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

Construction of Jonesborough’s new $2.3 million senior center at East Main Street at Longview Drive got under way in late November and is expected to be complete by the end of this year. In discussion since the 1990s, the new center will provide more than 13,000 square feet of finished programming space, or four to five times more than that available at the town’s existing senior center at Persimmon Ridge Park. At the long-awaited groundbreaking ceremony that marked the start of the construction, Mayor Kelly Wolfe called the project an investment in Jonesborough’s citizens and quality of life. The ground breaking was held Nov. 28, immediately following state approval of a final set of revised designs that trimmed more than $2 million from the costs of the building construction. The scaled-back design eliminated a commercial kitchen and about 75 percent of the space on the lower level of the two-story structure designed by Ken Ross Architects in 2012. The revised plans also will leave the lower level unfinished for completion at a later date. Amenities included in the final designs include a multiuse dining room that will also be used for dances, meetings and presentations; exercise, craft and game rooms; a computer lab; a parlor; a lobby and

administrative offices. Aesthetic features initially removed and later restored to the plans enhance the building’s appearance include a metal roof, upper-level balconies and decorative brick work above the center’s windows. Anxious to the get the construction under way, the town instructed Rainey Construction to begin excavation of the site in early September, immediately following the Board of Mayor and Adlermen’s approval of the revised designs. Alderman Homer G’Fellers noted at that time the project had been some two decades in the making with discussions of the need for a new center dating back to the 1990s. But with the snow and record-setting cold temperatures that occurred through much of December and

January, the project got off to a painfully slow start. In early January, with little more than an elevator pad in place at the construction site, the town’s building inspector Jay Green was brought on board to help oversee the stepby-step permitting process and speed the construction along. With the anticipated arrival of warmer weather, Browning said the building was expected to be well out of the ground by the end of March. Wolfe has assured the Senior Center Committee members the unfinished space on the lower level of the building will leave ample room for future expansion and the addition of a kitchen will be a priority. The mayor has also noted Washington County has agreed to contribute $500,000 to the project after the construction is substantially complete.

Bays Media In the early 1940s, N.M. Bays Sr. began the process of learning to build and repair radios. He took this knowledge and began his own business called Bays Radio in a small building beside his home in 1944. With the emergence of television in the 50s he set up and repaired some of the first televisions in area homes. Soon, Bays Radio & TV was established and became an official dealer of Zenith, RCA, and Sony. Over the years the business has diversified. They have sold not only radios and televisions, but also appliances and satellite dishes and done repair work on them all! As time passed, the small family-owned retail business had to change with the advent of big box retailers in the early 80s. Today, we are called Bays Media! We provide reliable and high quality post production services in the East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Western North Carolina area. We can take your old 8mm film and slides and convert them to DVD format. We can also convert video tapes including VHS, 8mm, Mini DV, and Beta to DVD. Tapes, film, and slides all deteriorate

with age and need to be transferred to DVD format to pass on to future generations. We can also restore old photographs that are torn or discolored and get them looking ready for the mantel again. If you need a large number of DVD or CD copies, we can do that as well. We even have rental equipment for your business presentations. And if you’re looking for someone to produce your commercials or assist you in producing your own DVD for your business, look no further than Bays Media. Whatever your media need is, give the qualified employees at Bays Media a call. We can assist you to bridge the growing technological gap. This year we are celebrating 70 years in business. We’d like to say a big “thank you” to all of our customers both past and present for supporting our family business. We look forward to helping you with your media needs! 1011 N. Roan Street, Johnson City, TN 423-929-2171

Faith in the Future

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Johnson City Press, Page 7E

Five Points traffic roundabout on track

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Highway 75 between the Tri-Cities Regional Airport and Highway 36 is mostly complete.

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Paving continued on Highway 36 in late March. The expected project completion date is in December.

Road projects will ease highway traffic By GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

Two major state road projects in Washington and Sullivan counties costing an estimated $68 million are expected to ease congestion and improve safety in an area much in need of significant infrastructure improvements. Elizabethton’s Summers-Taylor has wrapped up a nearly $27 million project to widen Tennessee Highway 75, or Bobby Hicks Highway, from Tenn. Highways 36 to 357 near the Tri-Cities Regional Airport. Most of this project is in Sullivan County. The same company is working on a nearly $42 million project in Washington County to widen Tenn. Hwy. 36 from Tenn. Hwy. 254 (Boone Ave.) to Tenn. Hwy. 75. “The newly constructed roadway has been opened up to traffic. However, as cleanup of the project continues, motorists may encounter intermittent lane closures throughout the project,”

said Mark Nagi, Tennessee Department of Transportation Region 1 communications director. Originally scheduled for completion last summer, the Hwy. 75 project is aimed at making travel to and from the airport a lot easier, as well alleviating traffic congestion and laying the literal groundwork for future growth and development. Since the airport first opened in 1937, the main access point has been Bobby Hicks Highway. That route now has been widened to five lanes and eased vehicle congestion to and from the airport. Both projects have been delayed because of heavy rains, but workers have pressed on, Nagi said. “In the area of the intersection with SR36 waterline installation is taking place behind the curb and motorists may encounter temporary lane closures while this work is going on,” he said. Nagi said once this relocation is complete, the final grading on the Gray side of the intersection

will be completed and the final surface through the intersection will be paved. The contractor is also awaiting an environmental permit modification for a stream located on the right side of the project. Once this modification is complete the contractor will do the channel widening to finish the project. Work also is under way to widen Tenn. 36 from Boones Creek Road to Tenn. 75 — a shortcut and an alternate route for motorists coming mostly from the southeastern portion of Kingsport. Tenn. 36 also is know as North Roan Street and the Kingsport Highway. The expected completion date for this project was September 2014, but that has been pushed back to mid-December 2014, Nagi said. Once done, the road will be five lanes with a curb and gutter. Work began in late January 2011. It is expected to cost about $41.9 million. Completion of this project will allow more cars to get through the area when there are incidents on I-26. If that happens,

traffic will be moved over from Boones Creek Road or from the Gray exit onto Tenn. 36 to bypass potential traffic jams. Summers-Taylor is continuing utility relocations throughout the project with grading operations continuing as weather permits, Nagi said. Traffic has been shifted to the new roadway from the beginning of the project to Boring Chapel Road. From Boring Chapel to Oak Grove Road, grading operations along with storm drainage installation is continuing. The contractor has also backed up to the left side of center working on the grade from the beginning of the project to Boring Chapel so that this can be brought up to stone grade. Work is continuing on a waterline relocation at the SR36 and SR75 intersection, which will open up the work on the box culvert and allow grading on that end of the project to pick up. Flagging operations are expected throughout the project and motorists are asked to use caution in this area, Nagi said.

Expanding Gap Creek highway a big project By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

ELIZABETHTON — From the time the Overmountain Men followed it on their way across the Appalachians to Kings’ Mountain, Gap Creek has been a well-traveled route in Carter County. As traffic and traffic signals multiplied in Elizabethton, Gap Creek Highway became a well-used bypass for motorists using U.S. Highway 321 and 19E. Gap Creek was a narrow highway, but it kept getting more and more traffic, including trucks. It was only natural that there would be accidents on the narrow, curvy road. Mark Nagi, community relations officer for Region 1 of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, said last month “the crash rate for the majority of the route exceeds the statewide average; with the expected growth rate in traffic, an increase in the crash rate on (the) existing, narrow road is inevitable.” The state began working on the project, which would make improvements to the existing road and provide for a new section of the highway. The successful bidder on the project was Charles Blalock and Sons, Inc. The current contract amount is $40,680,359.77. The project is expected to be completed on May 31, 2015. One section of the project was completed on time in January. “We opened the new connector

The roundabout traffic circle planned for Jonesborough’s notoriously dangerous Five Points intersection is expected to be completed by mid-May. The town of Jonesborough and area utilities moved water, electric and gas lines out of the path of the new traffic circle last fall. The landmark Five Points market located near the intersection of West Main Street, Depot Street, Tennessee Highway 81 South, and State Route 34’s east and west entrance lanes was demolished in December.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation awarded Summers Taylor the contract on the $1 million project. A temporary traffic light was put in place and construction got under way at the intersection earlier this month. Because of the large number of David Crockett High School students who pass through Five Points on their way to and from the high school, TDOT plans to offer Crockett students and the community instruction in how to maneuver the traffic circle safely.

From staff reports

Hawk Nest Farms Starting six years ago with a bull and a heifer, Hawk Nest Farms is now producing some of the best beef in the world for the local markets and consumers. The beef of Waygu Bulls and Angus cows is known as “American Style Kobe Beef”. This beef has exceptional taste and tenderness with added health benefits from the high content of omega acids in the animal fat. The beef is raised locally, in East Tennessee, on natural grasses, fescue, alfalfa, and orchard grass. No growth hormones are allowed and antibiotics are only used when necessary. The USDA has established four grades to describe the quality of beef. Marbling is the primary basis for determining the grade of beef. The USDA grades are select, choice, prime and sometimes prime plus. On occasion, meat graded choice is available at local groceries. Prime beef is sold to restaurants and high quality eateries. Approximately 2% of the cattle in the US are evaluated to be of prime quality. While over 50% of Wagyu cross beef is graded prime or

prime plus. Studies of health benefits of Wagyu beef have shown that the cattle contains a higher percentage of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids than typical beef. The ratio of monounsaturated fatty acids is up to three times higher which is better for your heart than eating a diet filled with lean products. It has also proved to aid in controlling blood sugar and diabetes. The beef is available as whole, a half or a quarter for purchasing. The beef is USDA inspected and aged for fourteen days. Individual cuts are vacuum packaged and quick frozen. He also has registered bulls and F-1 heifers available. You can contact Ron Hawkins, owner at 423-257-7672 for more information or a possible tour of his facility. Mr. Hawkins’ Beef is going to be available at the Troutdale Restaurant and is hoping to have beef available at the Farmers Market in Johnson City in the next few weeks. For more information please review the website

Realty Executives of Johnson City Realty Executives of Johnson City had another record breaking year for 2013, with sales increasing by 8% over 2012. The office also received the prestigious “Circle of Excellence” award that is awarded to less than 2% of Realty Executives offices nationwide. There were also 11 agents that received national awards. Realty Executives of Johnson City specializes in residential real estate sales for the East Tennessee area. They have grown since 1997 from 6 agents to affiliating 43 agents today. They strive for superior service in helping buyers and sellers in all aspects of their real estate needs. Obtaining a mortgage in this day and time has become somewhat of a tightrope walk with many hoops to jump through. Realty Executives agents are

well trained in seeing you through these new guidelines and can make the process much easier for all concerned. Realty Executives International was founded in Phoenix Arizona in 1978 and the local office was opened in 1997. Since that time, Realty Executives of Johnson City has helped thousands of people sell their existing homes and find the home of their dreams. Their offices are located in Boones Creek and are easily accessed from anywhere in the Tri-Cities area. Officers of the company are: Fred and Carol Goodwin, Steve and Susan Clouse, and Bill and Julie Hedges. Fred Goodwin serves as the managing broker. 2694 Boones Creek Road Johnson City, TN 37615 423-952-0226

Waygu Beef

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Intersection of West G Street and the new Gap Creek Extension looking toward Old Gap Creek Road from West Elk Avenue portion which goes from the SR361 intersection to Tester Road. This section had been closed for the last year,” Nagi said. “Gap Creek Road is now open from the beginning of the project to the end of the project. Besides some temporary lane closures at times, most of the remaining construction will take place on the new alignment, which is off the existing roadway.” As with any major highway project these days, there were extensive environmental studies done before the route was approved and construction could begin. People who use Edwards

Island Park along the Doe River in downtown Elizabethton are familiar with one of the mitigation projects that was required. Extensive improvements were made to the channel of the old Mill Race that parallels the river and explains why people call the area an island. Another mitigation project was done on Buffalo Creek in the western section of the county. “We have done stream mitigation to both Buffalo Creek and Mill Race because of minor stream relocations as a result of SR362 construction,” Nagi said. “We basically have removed obstructions from these streams,

planted trees along the banks, and added aesthetics (picnic tables) to the surrounding area.” The environmental study did not find the construction project would have any adverse effects on endangered species along the route, Nagi said. It took the Overmountain Men an entire day to travel from Sycamore Shoals to Sheltering Rock at the foot of Roan Mountain. Once the highway project is completed, motorists will be able to retrace the route in considerably less time.

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Progress 2014

Page 8E, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Religion remains strong anchor in Tri-Cities By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press

A rainbow over First Presbyterian Church, Johnson City his future wife were students at Milligan College. He said the region was then “solidly a part of the Southern Bible Belt.” He said one of the most influential religious festivals of the time was the annual Johnson City Preaching Mission, which was supported by most of the city’s congregations and featured nationally known ministers and religious speakers for three nights of preaching and singing. The Norrises returned to the region in the ’70s when he joined the Bible faculty of Milligan College. He learned the Preaching Mission had foundered. Another change he noticed was the Catholic Church, St. Mary’s, had grown, partly because computer technicians in the Northeast had lost their jobs and found work at Texas Instruments in Johnson City. He said other Catholics had been attracted by employment at Tennessee Eastman in Kingsport. Hispanic

agricultural workers had been attracted to the region to pick strawberries and other crops. After a five-year stint in West Germany, Norris came back to the area as a professor at Emmanuel. He said he found religious groups were taking some surprising paths. While mainline churches had suffered steep losses nationally, they had suffered only stagnation and some loss in the region. Some church buildings, however, had been converted to restaurants and other businesses. Small conservative congregation had grown. He said the most remarkable growth after 1977 was in the Roman Catholic and Pentecostal churches. The influx of South American immigrants brought many more Catholics. They helped the community build a new sanctuary and school. South American and Mexican Pentecostals have access to one Assembly of God building. A

One Stop Wines and Spirits After more than 30 years anchored along South Roan Street in Johnson City, One Stop Wines and Liquors moved locations to University Plaza on State of Franklin Road near ETSU in July 2013. With a building of only 5,000 square feet we realized that expansion was not a possibility and that a move would be necessary for the future of our business. Our new location has over 8,000 square feet and we will be able to meet the customer’s ever demanding search for new wines, craft distilleries and high gravity beers. 2014 will be the beginning of a new era for us as Tennessee law has changed and will be allowed to carry a vast and diverse product line that is related to our industry. Such items will include low gravity beer, tobacco products and fine cigars, gift baskets, wine and spirits accessories, to name a few.


Currently we employ 13 staff members with a total of 130 years of experience. Our staff is not only well trained but also enjoys and has passion for our beers, wines and spirits. We have weekly tastings that range across the board from our high gravity beers to a multitude of wines and liquors from across the globe. We have been very proud to serve not only our community but our region for over thirty one years. We take great pride in giving to the American Cancer Society, BASA, Boy Scouts of America, Saint Mary’s School, Johnson City Symphony, Johnson City Arts Council and many others. 1735 W. State of Franklin Johnson City, TN 423-926-2448

Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. Unicoi County and an economic engine for Northeast Tennessee. A Tennessee company founded in 1957, Nuclear Fuel Services has been around for a long time. The company, now a subsidiary of Babcock & Wilcox Co., manufactures fuel for the U.S. Navy’s fleet of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines. Nuclear Fuel Services had a great year in 2013, including the completion of a major plant expansion. “Our team members are highly trained and committed to rigorous safety and compliance standards,” said Karen Randall, spokeswoman for the company. “In addition, we are committed to our community with continued reinvestment, including

the multi-million-dollar NFS facility expansion that was completed last year.” Nuclear Fuel Services is also active in the community, holding blood drives, supporting several area United Way agencies, and partnering with a variety of community organizations. “We’re proud that we’ve had the opportunity to be part of the economy in Unicoi County and Northeast Tennessee for so many years,” Randall said,” and we’re proud to have such great employees who are an active part of the community.” 1205 Banner Hill Road, Erwin, TN (423) 735-5698

Wellmont Cancer Institute When Donna Ferguson was facing Stage IV cancer, she needed more than average oncology services – she needed a miracle. And at the Wellmont Cancer Institute in Johnson City, Donna found just that. The cancer institute’s leading-edge treatments helped heal Donna’s body, and the compassionate, caring staff helped heal her spirit. “The Wellmont Cancer Institute has been an absolute blessing,” Donna said. “Without them here…I don’t know what I would have done. I’m grateful each and every day for their angels.” In Johnson City, the Wellmont Cancer Institute is proud to offer a brand-new cancer center, where we provide chemotherapy, hydrations and injections. Located off State of Franklin Road behind Fuddruckers, our new center also features: • Clinical trials, which give you access to the latest cancer-fighting treatments and remedies • Genetic counseling, so we can assess whether your cancer might be passed down through your family, as well as a high-risk clinic

where we can help prevent cancer or catch it in earlier, more treatable stages • A registered dietitian who can help you eat right and stay healthy And if you need additional care, you have easy access to any Wellmont Cancer Institute facility, including Holston Valley Medical Center and Bristol Regional Medical Center, where we offer advanced radiation therapy equipment that delivers targeted, concentrated doses of radiation directly to tumor sites. We’ve also made it easier than ever for your physicians to collaborate, so you don’t have to worry about transferring medical records or arranging logistics – you can stay focused on healing. Above all, everyone with the Wellmont Cancer Institute believes treatment should begin – and end – with hope. With hope as our focus, we’re committed to helping our patients have the chance to live out their dreams long after cancer is only a distant memory. Learn more – call 423-928-3020 or visit

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Ever since the region was first settled in the last third of the 18th century, the Tri-Cities region has been predominantly Protestant. The Southern Baptist congregations have been the largest group for many decades. According to the 2010 report of the Association of Religion Data, there are 105,246 religious adherents in the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area, with Southern Baptists comprising 47,144 or 45 percent. The Kingsport-Bristol Metropolitan Statistical Area has 169,086 adherents, with Southern Baptists comprising 75,444, also 45 percent. The next largest denominations are the United Methodist Church with 11,875 adherents (11 percent) and 11,144 adherents of the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ (10.5 percent) in the Johnson City MSA. There are 29,150 Methodists (17 percent) in Kingsport-Bristol, while Christian Churches only have 6,657 adherents (4 percent). In total numbers, 99,210 of the 105,246 religious adherents are associated with evangelical and mainline Protestant religions. The Catholic Church has 3,210 adherents. While these statistics seem to conserve the traditional view that the Tri-Cities remain a monolithic part of the Bible Belt, others have seen considerable change in the picture in the past half century. One of the best discussions of the religious changes in the TriCities since the 1960s can be found in the “Oxford Handbook of Religious Diversity” published by the Oxford University Press in 2010. The scholarly work delves into many aspects of religious diversity. Chapter 15 is “Religious Demographics and the New Diversity” by Frederick Norris, a professor emeritus of Emmanuel Seminary in Johnson City. Norris has spent various times in his life living in Johnson City and he has been an astute observer of the changes in the region’s diversity. Norris devotes his chapter to a discussion of religious diversity throughout the world. For his discussion on diversity, he selected the Tri-Cities as the example of the changes in America. Norris was introduced to the region in the 1960s, when he and

Christian church and a Baptist church offer their sanctuaries for Spanish language services. Norris said there was even an Eastern Orthodox congregation established in downtown Johnson City. Norris said the Bible Belt culture has not been uprooted, but the old blue laws have disappeared. Businesses are open on Sunday and alcohol can be purchased any day. “For me, the totally unforeseen development has been the growth and influence of various nonChristian religions,” Norris said. The small Jewish assembly now has a synagogue and a rabbi near Blountville. One group of heart specialists and one of internal medicine specialists connected with East Tennessee State University and the Medical Center Hospitals are almost entirely staffed by Asians, primarily Indian Hindu and Pakistani Muslim immigrants. Hindus in Kingsport have established a Hall of Worship and there are two centers in Bristol for different Hindu traditions. Norris said Islamic believers in Johnson City have a mosque, which depends on immigrants with their professional standing and wealth. He said there are some indigenous converts. The Johnson City Public Library served as a meeting place for Baha’i groups from 199-2005. He said they moved to a Unitarian Church in Gray. Throughout a lifetime, Norris has witnessed religious diversity come to a part of the Bible Belt. Although their numbers remain small, they are making their presence felt.

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So are we. High-quality Wellmont services can be found right here in Johnson City. From primary care and women’s health to heart, pulmonology and cancer care – rest assured, Wellmont Health System has you covered. With Wellmont’s wide array of high-quality services in Johnson City, you don’t have to go far from home to receive great care. And if you have additional needs, we provide seamless access to other Wellmont facilities and providers, including those at Holston Valley Medical Center. If you want to schedule an appointment or have any questions, our nurse navigators stand ready to help. Please call Wellmont Nurse Connection at 1-877-230-NURSE (6877) or visit

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Faith in the Future Region has a rich history of manufacturing Sunday, March 30, 2014

Johnson City Press, Page 9E

Johnson City Eye Clinic & Surgery Center

By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

Manufacturing has a long and distinguished history in the Tri-Cities region. While agriculture was the predominant early economic force in the region, the remoteness of the area from East Coast cities in the late 18th century encouraged many early industries, especially an iron industry based on native ores. The most celebrated early manufacturer was Mary McKeehan Patton, who made more than 500 pounds of gunpowder for the Overmountain Men to use in the Revolutionary War Battle of King’s Mountain in 1780. After the war, she continued to make gunpowder for local customers. The lead for the bullets used by the Overmountain Men is said to have come from mines at Bumpus Cove. There were plenty of other early industrialists in the region, from grist mills to whiskey distilling to tanneries supplying the local needs, but the most important early industry was iron making. Thanks to the local deposits of iron ore in the mountains and the demands for iron tools by local farmers, iron making was common in many areas in the Tri-Cities, from Valley Forge to Laurel Bloomery. Iron manufacturing continued to be important after the Civil War but suffered from competition with larger iron producing regions. The lumber industry became important after the Civil War in the mountainous sections of the region, where virgin timber remained. Just as the lumber industry was going into decline after World War I, the Tri-Cities became more industrialized than it had ever been, thanks to the building of huge factories by outside investors. Camera and film magnate George Eastman produced one of the first, in 1920, and the company that still carries his name remains the biggest industry in the region and the state. German investors located two large rayon plants in

Elizabethton. Bemberg in 1925 and American Glantztoff in 1927. Elizabethton served as one of the principal rayon producers in the world for 30 years, before the plants went into decline from foreign competition and eventually closed. But Eastman and its many chemical operations continues to thrive. In World War II, Eastman went to war, not only producing a powerful explosive, RDX, for the military at Holston Ordnance Works but providing management for the Manhattan Project’s Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge, which helped produce the first atomic bombs. After the war, Eastman continued to expand and innovate. It became the first chemical company in the U.S. to commercially produce chemicals from coal rather than petroleum. Its coal gasification plant has been designated a national historic chemical landmark. In 1993 the company was awarded the prestigious Malcom Baldridge National Quality Award and the next year, the

company spun off from its parent Eastman Kodak and became an independent corporation, Eastman Chemical Co. Eastman is a global company with 10,000 employees, but its corporate headquarters remains in Kingsport, where 6,600 of the employees are located. Kingsport has long been the manufacturing leader of the Tri-Cities. It even claimed the title of home of the largest book manufacturing plant in the world with Kingsport Press (now Quebecor). Other industries included Holliston Mills, which produced cloth needed for the Press’ books; Mead Paper Co. (now Weyerhaeuser), which produced paper for the Kingsport Press; and American St. Gobain (now AFG), one of the world’s leading glass manufacturers. Much of Johnson City’s economic history involves railroads. At one time, the city had three rail companies intersecting in its downtown. One of the railroad developers, Jonn Wilder, had plans to build a

steel manufacturing center there, with ore being hauled from the iron mines in Cranberry, N.C., on his East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad. Today, Johnson City can claim to be the home of one of the leading water heater companies, American Water Heaters, with more than 1,000 employees. Another company, Borla Industries, is one of the leading producers of automobile performance exhaust systems in the world.

The Johnson City Eye Clinic & Surgery Center saw growth in 2013 with the expansion of their practice team. During 2013, the clinic and surgery center added a third fellowship-trained glaucoma specialist, Jennifer Oakley, MD to their team of highly trained medical professionals, furthering their ability to offer specialized eye care to the Johnson City community. The Johnson City Eye Clinic & Surgery Center has big plans in 2014 to broaden their range of patient services. The eye care center plans to implement a laser assisted cataract and refractive surgery in April 2014. The practice will also continue to offer other specialized services including: cataract surgeries, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries, the treatment of glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal disease, and pediatric ophthalmology.

In addition to specialized care, The Johnson City Eye Clinic & Surgery Center will continue to provide for the comprehensive eye needs of their pediatric and adult patients by using technological advancements in treatment, diagnostics and prevention. The Johnson City Eye Clinic was founded in 1942. The clinic moved to Med Tech Park in Johnson City with the addition of a surgery center in 2004. The practice also has local offices in Bristol, Tenn. The Johnson City Eye Clinic & Surgery Center team consists of 98 staff members including physicians. 110 Med Tech Park., Johnson City, TN 37604 (423) 929-2111


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Progress 2014

Page 10E, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Expedited delivery process eases ETSU Post Office By TONY CASEY Press Staff Writer

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Workers near completion on the rough grading at the Boone Street Detention Basin downtown. The basin was constructed in 2013 to hold water that overflows King Creek during heavy rain events. Workers also built an outlet structure on the corner of King Street that discharges water into a box culvert. On-street parking has been added on King Street between Montgomery and Boone streets.

City’s flood mitigation plan stays on track By GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

Johnson City has steadily moved forward on what is estimated to be a $30 million, longrange flood mitigation plan. Revenue from stormwater fees is paying for the $6 million borrowed by the city to buy property and launch Founders Park, to finalize and implement plans for draining water from the Tree Streets to Brush Creek, to rebuild culverts and South Broadway and East Main streets, as well as other projects. On the flip side, the city’s Public Works Department performed most of the work on the Boone Street Detention Pond. It also built the McClure Street sump near U-Haul, likely saving taxpayers a bit of cash rather than hiring contractors to do the work. “We’re doing about as much as we can financially do,” City Manager Pete Peterson said at a summer meeting organized by Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, to examine what the future holds for Johnson City’s flooding problems and what state legislators can do to help. “Most of the federal government’s concern is with water quality. What we really need is some cash. So if there’s anything you can do, it would help. The $30 million number does nothing to address the problems beyond downtown.” The first, and one of the largest, stormwater hurdles has been cleared: Founders Park. Meanwhile, U-Haul’s days are numbered. The company must be moved by April or it will incur $10,000 per month charges.

Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

Flood mitigation was done at the intersection of East Main Street and Broadway with construction of a new drainage structure. The city also upgraded the intersection to improve safety and enlarged the wetlands area on Broadway Street. Ultimately it must be out by December. The King Creek retention pond is the next big step. This project, dubbed the Event Commons for now, will be centered on what is now the U-Haul property at 114 W. King St. The area would temporarily be used to construct a large detention pond to catch floodwater from King Creek. Plans are to eventually create an open creek that will run through the middle of the area, where greenspace and storefronts for businesses also would be created. This downtown property will tie into the city’s completed inhouse project at McClure Street, where a basin was constructed. The overall plan in this part of town is to catch and distribute

overflow from King Creek that has caused flooding for years. An amphitheater has been looked at as a possibility, and city leaders are pushing hard to close several streets and increase pedestrian use. Known affectionately as “Pindzoli Pond” by Public Works Department Director Phil Pindzola’s employees, the Boone Street Detention Pond near downtown now is a fully operable part of Johnson City’s longrange stormwater mitigation plan. The repaved area on Boone completes the realignment of that street separated by West King. Along the entire length of King, a wide parking area is being constructed. This will serve two purposes: It will add parking and improve the flow of

water thanks to a design that increased the height of the part of road nearest the pond in order to help it move on to the McClure Street sump — another in-house project between Boone and the U-Haul site. Meanwhile, two other projects are in the works. City commissioners approved a $250,000 federal grant application in hopes the money would help buy the Kelly’s Foods property at the corner of Sevier Street and State of Franklin Road. Officials want to land the competitive Federal Emergency Management Agency Flood Mitigation Assistance Program grant to help with the purchase of unoccupied buildings at the site that could result in construction of a stormwater project to decrease flooding and improve water flow in Brush Creek. The project not only would help with flooding problems at that location but also to improve drainage from the Tree Streets, as well as continued flow through Founders Park. Also, a Knoxville company handling the majority of the city’s storm water design and engineering has completed a drainage study of the Tree Streets District to determine how to control water flow and minimize flooding along the State of Franklin corridor from Buffalo Street to University Parkway. The main problem identified was that drainage pipes are not sized to properly accommodate runoff. Should the four main identified projects be done, however, the total estimated cost to the city would be about $3.5 million.

Communication is key to good relationship between Johnson City and Jonesborough By MAX HRENDA Press Staff Writer

Those who drive down U.S. Highway 11E between Johnson City and Jonesborough may find it difficult to discern where one municipality ends and the other begins. Because of the road and existing industry, however, one economic development professional believes that discernment might become more difficult in the future. According to Mitch Miller, CEO of the Washington County Economic Development Council, the stretch of road between Johnson City and Jonesborough is primed for development. “You’ve got a lot of activity there that has happened over the last several years,” Miller said. “I think Johnson City is going to grow that way in the future.” Miller said the presence of the Walmart Supercenter at 2915 W.

Market St. could prove to be the catalyst for any future developments along the road. “You’ve got a Walmart that’s kind of positioned between Johnson City proper and Jonesborough proper,” Miller said. “Having that Walmart out there, I think you really will see some redevelopment along that West Market Street corridor.” If redevelopment were to occur, however, on either the Jonesborough or Johnson City portion of the road, either side would have to observe an urban growth boundary that bisects the road. According to Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe, one of the reasons behind establishing that boundary was the presence of existing utility lines. “We have agreed to growth boundaries based on utility availability between the city of Johnson City and the town of Jonesborough,” Wolfe said. The urban growth boundary between Jonesborough and Johnson City runs near the area

of Valley Equipment Company Inc., at 3903 W. Market St. According to Wolfe, that means there would be no development on any land without the presence of Jonesborough utilities. “If we provide water and sewer, it’s probably some place that we can grow,” Wolfe said. “If they provide water and sewer, we’re not going there.” Despite the presence of the urban growth boundary, Wolfe didn’t rule out the possibility of future redevelopment, particularly because of a good working relationship with Johnson City’s leaders. “We have a very good relationship with the leaders of Johnson City, both on the elected and staff level,” Wolfe said. “It is in everybody’s best interest for growth to proceed in a very organized, planned and up front manner.” Like Wolfe, Miller said his organization places emphasis on maintaining a good working relationship between Jonesborough

and Johnson City. By fostering communication and cooperation on the WCEDC board, Miller said, development would come that much easier. “One of the things the council wants to focus on is how we can collaboratively work together,” Miller said. “We have representatives from the city of Johnson City who sit on the board, and we also have representatives from Jonesborough. The fact that both of those groups sit on our board (means) that communication can happen and is happening.”

Don McCarty said $70,000 was well spent on an automated package delivery system. The manager of postal services at East Tennessee State University said the process makes it much more convenient for students to pick up their packages, as well as possibly setting the tone for fouryear colleges in the country. “This is the first one at any public university in the whole United States,” said McCarty in a story that came out after the announcement of the new system had been installed in early September. It consists of 86 lockers and two computer terminals where students can access their packages. With an increase in

allowed size, larger packages can come in for students. With the new process, they no longer have to wait in line to get their boxes, but can come and get them at their convenience. Another aspect added by the system is the ability to quickly acquire stamps. This package-delivery system and a new kiosk that allows customers to buy stamps and mail a letter or small package means more customers will not have to go to the window and stand in line, McCarty said. That was part of the reason the automated lockers were installed. “We want to make sure our window people, our clerks there, are helping people mail packages and do what they have to do,” he said. “It’s far more economical this way. Far less manpower required to run it. This is a superior system.”

Chamber of Commerce serving Johnson City-Jonesborough-Washington County The Chamber of Commerce serving Johnson City, Jonesborough, and Washington County has been promoting business, enhancing economic and community development, and serving as a catalyst for improving the overall quality of life in the communities it serves since 1915. They market the region both statewide and nationally and stay involved in governmental relations to represent the needs of their members. Chamber events and activities provide networking opportunities for both business and consumers. The Chamber also collaborates with others to enhance the overall economic and community development. With local and statewide marketing, the visitor industry has a $216 million dollar impact on Washington County. During 2013, a new Chamber website including a mobile app was launched. The 650 business members strongly supported events through sponsorship and attendance. They helped develop leaders through their

Leadership 2015 and Youth Leadership Programs, while also engaging key partners from local governments and organizations to strategically think about educational initiatives to grow the workforce and small business of the area. In 2014, they will continue their due diligence on developing the General Mills site, while also encouraging voter participation and working on plans to celebrate their 100th year in 2015. They will also continue to position themselves to address infrastructure needs, workforce development, P-16 education, and incentives for existing and new businesses. The Chamber staff serves on the boards and committees of local non-profits, contributing their time and efforts to those specific endeavors. For more information visit their website at 603 E. Market Street Johnson City (423) 461-8000

Washington County-Johnson City Animal Control Center The Washington County-Johnson City Animal Control Center is looking forward to a brand new facility. Construction is planned to start soon, said Director Debbie Dobbs. With more space, she said, the animal shelter will be able to keep animals longer – long enough for many of them to be adopted rather than euthanized. The new facility will also provide space for public education programs. “It will open up a lot of doors with this new facility, not only with keeping the animals longer and getting them homes, but also more educational opportunities for our community for kids and adults,” Dobbs said. The center has already been working with the Washington County Humane Society to reduce the number of animals that are euthanized, Dobbs said. Because of the Washington County Humane Society’s spay/neuter assistance program, pet overpopulation has been slowed – and the

number of animals coming into the shelter has dropped from 9,000 or more per year to about 6,600 last year. The main function of the Washington County-Johnson City Animal Control Center is enforcing animal laws in Washington County and Johnson City – but it also runs the animal shelter for pets when their owners can no longer care for them. “As I say when I do education with the kids,” Dobbs said, “we’re out to protect people from mean animals and animals from mean people.” The animal shelter always has pets ready for adoption; adoptable pets have passed a temperament test, and they often come with detailed information. It’s a great place to adopt and save a pet! 525 Sells Avenue, Johnson City, TN (423) 926-8769

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Adopt from your local Animal Shelter! • In 2013, the Center took in 6,638 animals • 2,623 were adopted out • 539 were returned home • 3,676 euthanized • 6,300 calls answered by Animal Control Officer

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Faith in the Future 2014 will be spent in planning, Unicoi welcomes state park paperwork for new Unicoi hospital

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Johnson City Press, Page 11E


Erwin Bureau Chief


Erwin Bureau Chief It was approximately 17 months ago that it was announced that a portion of the Rocky Fork area would become Tennessee’s next state park, and work is under way to bring this park to Unicoi County. At this point, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has completed a preliminary planning report for a roadway that will lead into the park area. Planning for the park’s trailheads and the engineering/design work for the facilities to be contained within its boundaries has been initiated. According to Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Communications Officer Shannon Ashford, an opening date for the park has not yet been set. However, the funding for two ranger positions for the state park at Rocky Fork has been included in Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed budget. The park is set to include amenities such as a ranger station/visitors center, primitive campground area, picnic areas and shelters. Brock Hill, deputy commissioner for the TDEC Bureau of Parks and Conservation, previously said visible construction in the area will not begin until the planning process is complete. In October 2012, Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander visited Unicoi County to announce that approximately 2,000 acres of the nearly 10,000-acre tract of land making up the Rocky Fork area would become Tennessee’s 55th state park. Efforts to preserve the Rocky Fork area predated this announcement by a number of years. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency used to lease the Rocky Fork land from private property owners, allowing the area to be used by the public for outdoor activities. When the possibility of this land being sold to developers presented itself, the U.S. Forest Service then expressed an interest in acquiring Rocky Fork to keep the land under public ownership. Land prices, however, increased more quickly than the Forest Service could keep up with. This is when the Conservation Fund, a nonprofit land conservation agency, stepped in and began to purchase Rocky Fork property. Around six years ago, the first land conveyance between the Conservation Fund and the Forest Service took place. In September 2012, the Forest Service finalized its purchase of Rocky

Within the next couple of months, officials with Mountain States Health Alliance should have a pretty good idea of what the new Unicoi County Memorial Hospital will look like and the scope of the facility’s services. UCMH Administrator Tracy Byers said MSHA officials have already held the organization’s annual strategic planning retreat and, this year, UCMH was included in this process. There, the plans with regard to UCMH were set for the rest of 2014 and 2015. Some of the strategic planning needed for the new facility took place before the retreat. Byers said MSHA officials have already conducted a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis in which members of the UCMH medical staff, local physicians and local organizations — such as the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club of Erwin — were polled. In December, MSHA announced the formation of a UCMH Community Advisory Board, which is made up of MSHA officials, county officials and local business leaders, and was tasked with helping to develop a strategic plan for UCMH, particularly with how it relates to the construction of the new hospital. In May, MSHA intends to apply with the state Health Services Development Agency to request a certificate of need for a replacement UCMH. This certificate of need will give MSHA the permission to build the new facility. Byers said he understands that

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

A sign marks the location of the new Unicoi County Memorial Hospital. MSHA will have a decision on this application by November. “So pretty much all of 2014 is going to be tied up with just the application/permission/approval process and, that way, it’ll be 2015 when we can really gear up with architectural and construction firms, and I still think the plan is to break ground sometime in early 2016,” Byers said. The new certificate of need cannot exceed UCMH’s original certificate, Byers said, meaning that MSHA can request up to 45 licensed hospital beds and 46-longterm care area beds for the new facility. With this application, Byers said MSHA must submit architectural drawings so, by the time the application is submitted, MSHA officials should have a good idea of the hospital’s size

and scope. Byers said MSHA must also “live fairly close” to the budget presented for the new facility and stay “somewhat committed” to its design plans. Byers said the new UCMH is slated for completion and opening in 2017. On Nov. 1, MSHA’s acquisition of Unicoi County’s approximately 60-year-old community hospital became official. Since that time, MSHA has continued to address both minor and major needs at UCMH until the new facility is constructed. This includes everything to new signage at the hospital to indicate it is now part of the MSHA family and new computer equipment and furniture to negotiating vendor agreements to save UCMH money and the purchase of a 64-slice CT scanner.

Quality Cleaning Since 1962!

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Rocky Fork is Tennessee’s newest state park. Fork land. Around 7,600 acres is now owned by the Forest Service. Rocky Fork’s remaining 2,036 acres was conveyed to the state of Tennessee in July by the Conservation Fund, clearing the way for work to begin to convert the area into a state park. Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch said state officials are continuing to work to secure funding for the park on a yearly basis. He said the impact it will have on the county will occur over time, boosting sales tax revenues and helping with property tax rates. “The sooner we start seeing definitive plans of just exactly what the state park is going to entail ... people will have a good sense of what they’re doing, if they’re going to invest money, whether it be

in a store, in a cabin, in a lodge or whatever, to serve the state park,” he said. “The state park is a good thing, but I think what’s even going to be better is the cabins and campgrounds and the stores that will help serve the visitors to the state park.” Lynch said local officials have been working with state legislators and TDOT officials to ensure that access to the park is as convenient and safe as possible. “I’m very optimistic about the impact of this park,” Lynch said. “I think it’s going to open up a whole lot of revenue sources for people who own land, especially up in the south end, and actually create jobs ... I think it will undoubtedly help what we already have in place — the rafting and the (Appalachian Trail), the hiking and the fishing.”

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Progress 2014

Page 12E, Johnson City Press


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Big softball tournaments coming to Johnson City By TONY CASEY Press Staff Writer When the softball tournaments start, that’s the indication that the seasons are changing to warmer weather, said Johnson City Parks and Recreation Athletic Manager David Carmichel. Looking ahead, there will be many opportunities for the local softball enthusiasts to experience high-level softball at Johnson City fields. There will be two big Amateur Softball Association tournaments held in the middle of summer, and many others sprinkled throughout the calendar from March through October, with only a few weekends off for Bristol Motor Speedway races and holidays. “It’s big when you get one of these tournaments to put on,” said Carmichel, who said he is excited his department will get to play host to two. On July 24-27, there will be a ASA girls slow pitch tournament for ages 10-18. A Class A fast pitch tournament for those 10 and

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Real to Reel owner Paul Wylie decided to donate the theater’s old 35mm projection equipment to Luke Barnes to be used for a metal drive for St. Jude’s Hospital. Real to Reel recently converted to all digital, making the old 35mm equipment obsolete. Pictured is Sean Wylie, owner Paul Wylie’s son, with one of the 35mm projectors, 35mm row of movie file, and other obsolete equipment that will be donated.

under will be held July 28-Aug. 3. Each ASA tournament is expected to land upwards of 45 different teams, some from as far as Hawaii, which should lend a boost to the local tourist market. Later in the year, Milligan’s softball program will put on a Fall

Classic tournament for high schoolers and fellow NAIA teams from within their conference. To land some of the bigger tournaments, Carmichel said the bidding process is rather intense, so there’s reason to celebrate such an impressive year of softball.

Free Service Tire Co. Inc. Free Service is in the business of Tire & Automotive Sales & Service through 10 Retail, 4 Wholesale & 2 Commercial locations located in east Tennessee, western North Carolina, and southwest Virginia. Headquarters are in Johnson City, TN, with local offices at 183 Lynn Road. The company was founded in 1919, opening its offices here in 1919. We service all types of vehicles from cars & light trucks to 18 wheelers, as well as selling tires to fit all these many types of vehicles. In 2013 we completed an addition to Knoxville commercial location to meet increased demand for service and repairs in the Knoxville and surrounding areas. We updated the wholesale division with new trucks to more efficiently serve its

wholesale customers and outfitted our Kingsport retread plant with new equipment at nearly every station, increasing capacity and reducing operation costs. Also, Free Service began offering Anywhere Care, a National Limited Warranty and Roadside Assistance program. Free Service is excited with the prospects that present themselves in 2014. We are actively looking at expanding our Retail Division by exploring the possibilities of new locations, as well as other opportunities that appear with the economy on the rebound in 2014 and even further out. The company supported several charities in 2013, including contributions to ETSU, United Way, Young Life, Boy Scouts of American, Hands On Regional Museum, Dawn of Hope, Crumley House, and more.

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Faith in the Future

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Johnson City Press, Page 13E

Unicoi liquor store expands despite wine bill passage By TONY CASEY Press Staff Writer

Tennessee’s recent decision to allow selling wine in grocery stores may change things on a massive level for supermarkets and wine and liquor stores across the state, but depending on the choices of individual towns, it may not have the same impact on small communities. Unicoi Wine & Spirits has even expanded in the midst of changing legislation. As one of the only spirit stores in the town, Unicoi Wine & Spirits has not only put together a

successful business, but exceeded the expectations put upon it by members of the town board, who, one manager said, laughed when he suggested they’d be getting 50 customers a day. “Now we have over 100,” manager Johnny McAllister said, prompting a three week expansion in early February to remain as competitive as they’ve been since bursting out of the gate in September last year. Expanding the store is the best way to be able to deliver locals with the low prices they might find in Johnson City, at some of the “discount stores,” McAllister said. Their distributors often offer

lower prices to the stores that can buy in bulk, requiring each location to have enough storage space to hold such quantities. The expansion brings the building located just off of Interstate 26 from about 1,900 square feet up to about 3,700, giving the business an opportunity to also add a wine tasting room, as well as the space to sell high gravity beer, too. The language of the law gives the ability to let individual towns decide how they want to proceed, which would, as McAllister said, only affect the local Walmart, which could potentially now sell alcohol. Jurisdictions across the state that

already allow liquor by the drink or in retail package stores would be able to make individual choices for their businesses if they want to sell wine. With a decision to allow alcohol sales in supermarkets, the town of Unicoi might choose to not allow Walmart to sell, leaving only Unicoi Wine & Spirits to benefit from the need for liquor and wine. Over the course of the three-week expansion, McAllister said they worked 20-hour days, seven days a week, but the work would pay off. Similar bills have been introduced in the past, meeting opposition from the wine and liquor lobby, repre-

sented by liquor stores whose members were worried about losing profits to the supermarkets, fearing they could go obsolete. Some of the final differences needed to be ironed out before passage of the bill, which was signed by Gov. Bill Haslam on March 20, included an increase of the new liquor license costs, as well as square footage requirements for the retail food stores that would potentially sell the alcohol. Money generated by the taxes and licenses of new businesses, are supposed to be going to generate big bucks for the state, which would pay new Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents to enforce the new laws.



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“Our foremost job every day that our doors open for business is to serve the same quality barbecue pork and beef that our customers have enjoyed for over 50 years. My mother would be proud of her granddaughter Lisa who today is carrying on the tradition of smoke in the hollow for the Proffitt family. Lord willing, the customers who sit down at Ridgewood 20 years from now will enjoy the same great pork and beef barbecue, Mrs. Proffitt’s beans, cold slaw and blue cheese dressing.” – Larry Proffitt

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Progress 2014

Page 14E, Johnson City Press

NEW HOMES ON DRY CREEK Volunteers and local organizations came together to help build new homes on Dry Creek Road after a 2012 storm destroyed homes in the community. Left, Tim and Katie Smith officially take possession of their new home at 968 Dry Creek. Realtor Roger Southerland with Re/ Max hands Katie the keys. From left, are Charles Oberweiser with Appalachian Service Project, Southerland and the Smiths. Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Left, Walter Crouch, president of Appalachia Service Project, speaks at the dedication of Doug Wilson’s new home on Dry Creek Road. Wilson’s home was the first home completed on the street. Volunteers came from as far as Iowa to help build the houses destroyed by flooding. Right, Wilson stands with family during the dedication.

Restaurateurs bring variety to downtown Johnson City dining By BRAD HICKS Press Staff Writer

No matter what one is craving, they can likely find a restaurant to suit their palate in the Johnson City area. And restaurateurs continue to look to set up in the city, ensuring that the local culinary offerings will continue to remain diverse. A number of independently owned restaurants have been established in Johnson City in recent years. The Hana Steakhouse, a teppan-style Japanese restaurant, opened last year on Browns Mill Road. Soul food restaurant Salt N’ Pepper, which was started by Bridgette Gordon and Tiffany Greenlee, opened on East Oakland Avenue in early 2012. The Paragon Diner, specializing in Greek and Italian dishes, recently moved into the space in Franklin Terrace Court once occupied by Atlanta Bread. Several other newer eateries have also set up shop in downtown Johnson City to be among the atmosphere that city officials hope continuing revitalization efforts will bring about. The Korean Taco House, a predominantly carry-out business, opened in the former Mecca location last fall. The Main Street Pizza Company set up in the King Center Building in early 2010. Authentic German cuisine is offered at Freiberg’s. Another downtown business is The Battery, located at the corner of Spring and Cherry streets. The restaurant opened its doors just a little more than two years ago and, according to co-owner Mike Ferguson, has already established a base of regular customers. “I would say things are steady,” Fergusion said. “The feedback we get is we have a clientele that loves our food.” The Battery specializes in gourmet seafood and steak, which is prepared from scratch on site, and it offers patrons a number of beer, wine and mixed drink choices. Ferguson said the restaurant’s aim is to provide customers with a Carolinian coastal experience, which led to it being named after the Charleston, S.C., landmark. Ferguson said for fellow owners Steve Sonneberger and Jeff Hopland, who started The Battery, establishing the restaurant in Johnson City was an easy choice. “We live here. Our families are here. This is home,” Ferguson said. Ferguson recently came onboard as an owner with Hopland and Sonneberger. He said he became interested in becoming involved with The Battery since it more closely matched the

quality of the food he ate in Europe while living there for 18 years. With its proximity to East Tennessee State University, the coming Northeast State Community College site, the boom in apartment development and the Tweetsie Trail, Ferguson feels The Battery is well-positioned in the community. He also said there are big plans in store for the restaurant itself. The restaurant is located on the first floor of the Spring Street building, and the restaurant’s owners are currently undertaking a project to convert the second floor into a 5,000-square-foot venue center that could host events such as large business meetings and bridal parties. Ferguson said owners hope to have this area open by this summer. “We have a lot to look forward to this summer,” he said. The Holy Taco and Cantina also is among the restaurants that have been established in the downtown area. The East Main Street restaurant, which opened around two years ago, offers Mexican-style cuisine that is prepared in house. General manager Ariana Garrett said Holy Taco’s atmosphere is more restaurantlike in the daytime, but it also offers the “bar scene” experience at night as drinks and mixed drinks are served. “Customers love us,” Garrett said. “... If you come here and eat, you will be back.” Since opening, Holy Taco has seen its business continually increase, especially once construction on roadways in the downtown area was completed and the streets reopened, Garrett said. “Business has steadily been on the rise,” she said. Like the owners of The Battery, Garrett said owners of the Holy Taco are glad to be part of the downtown environment. And these owners are not alone. Chef Timothy Swinehart, owner of the Buffalo Street Downtown Deli, can be added to the list. Swinehart opened his deli, which offers a number of deli sandwiches and flatbread pizza, last April in the former Schmucks building. He said the location, which he had been eying for years for a potential eatery, falls in line with his goal of bringing a new dining concept to the downtown area. The longtime restaurateur also said the customers at Buffalo Street Downtown Deli are “the best customers I’ve had.” He said he doesn’t rely on advertising, but instead relies on his clientele to spread the word about the business. “If someone tells you about it, you’re more likely to enjoy it,” he said.

Holy Taco Cantina is located at 211 E. Main St. And apparently word has traveled, as Swinehart said business remained strong despite recent road closures in the downtown area. He said he is keeping a close eye on how Johnson City’s downtown revitalization progresses. “What they do as a city and their plans are for the future 100 percent affect my future,” Swinehart said.

But Swinehart said there is a “new vibe” in the downtown area with new restaurants looking to set up there, adding that he would not be averse to seeing Johnson City become an Asheville-like destination. “It’s just been amazing to see so many businesses thriving as we go through so many changes,” he said.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Region has much to offer tourists, residents By JENNIFER SPROUSE From unique shopping options to one-of-a-kind cuisine, Northeast Tennessee has a little bit of everything for the daytrippers and the once-a-year visitors. “We are known for our hospitality,” said Gary Mabrey, president and CEO of the Johnson City, Jonesborough and Washington County Chamber of Commerce. “This is a safe place and this is a good place to visit and recreate or conduct an event.” The surrounding mountain trails, including the nearby Appalachian Trail, are a big draw to the Northeast Tennessee area. “The mountains, certainly being on the eastern portion of the great mountains, attract so many to this part of the country. It’s scenic in the summer and it’s absolutely beautiful when there’s snow upon those caps that are just 1,600-1,800 feet above where we are,” Mabrey said. “Then you have rivers, you have our lakes. Then you just have great parks if you just want to go and have a picnic. Aesthetically speaking, when you’ve finished a conference day or you’ve finished a day on the ball field and you have some free time, there isn’t anything better than driving around Johnson City.” Inside the city limits, Winged Deer and Buffalo Mountain parks offer hiking and picnic options, as well as various seasonal activities such as daycamps for kids. In nearby Carter County, Roan Mountain State Park and Carvers Gap are a draw. The Erwin Linear Trail, which runs parallel to Interstate 26 along North Indian Creek and the Nolichucky River in Erwin, is a popular place for fishing, hiking, biking, jogging and picnics. “We’re a destination if you’re a historical buff,” Mabrey said. “You can go to Rocky Mount. You can go to Sycamore Shoals. You can go to Tipton-Haynes.” Another stop for tourists traveling to the Northeast Tennessee might be the Gray Fossil Site, where visitors can see fossil specimens such as red pandas, alligators and the world’s largest tapir finds. In the coming months, the Tweetsie Trail — a path to connect Johnson City to Elizabethton — also will be available for people to explore the surrounding nature with either a walk, run or bike ride. And as far as entertainment, there’s plenty to do around the region. “We’re doing better as an entertainment venue,” Mabrey said. “If you want to drive around, you can do music one place in Johnson City, you can drive to our neighboring communities and do music there.” Johnson City’s musical past has just recently been reintroduced to the area in the 19281929 Johnson City Sessions recordings, which followed the legendary Bristol Sessions where the Carter Family got their claim to fame. Also in Johnson City, people can walk on down to the Down Home each week to see a show or two. During the first week of June, the Blue Plum Festival — the city’s own music and arts showcase — is a great place to catch a concert. The Umoja Festival, working under the mission to bring unity to the community, takes place each August. The Appalachian Fair, held at the fairgrounds in Gray, also

packs in musical entertainment, rides, food and shows for the community and visitors. Local shops and businesses can also be found throughout the city. Mabrey said local restaurants such as Firehouse Restaurant, The Peerless Restaurant, Buffalo Street Downtown Deli, Korean Taco House and MidCity Grill are always praised by tourists, as well as chain favorites such as Bonefish Grill. Alicia Phelps, director of tourism and marketing for Jonesborough, said the town always has something going on for locals and out-of-town guests. According to Phelps, the town hosts more than 100 events year round. “One of the main reasons we see folks coming to Jonesborough is the storytelling and the history,” Phelps said. “We are the world’s storytelling capital, so folks are very intrigued by that and then also being Tennessee’s oldest town is something that we see folks coming in year round for.” She said the Jonesborough Storytelling Festival has acquired national and international attention, bringing in thousands of people each year to the historic town. While in Jonesborough, visitors can check out the unique shops, such as The Christmas Shop and the Jonesborough General Store and Eatery, while also purchasing a sweet or two from The Lollipop Shop, Crazy Cupcake or Another Touch Bakery. There are local eateries in Jonesborough, too, including Olde Courthouse Diner, Main Street Cafe, The Pancake House and The Dining Room. “With all of the interest in microbreweries and distilleries, we are so lucky to have our very own microbrewery here with Depot Street Brewing,” Phelps said. “They’ve been ranked internationally with some of their brews and I love to take groups down there. It’s so much fun and I know it’s something that the locals enjoy, too. It’s just something that’s really captured a part of Jonesborough.” Each year, the county seat plays host to Jonesborough Days, Music on the Square, as well as Movies on Main. If you are looking for a sitdown production, the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is the perfect place to catch a musical-filled show year-round. In Johnson City, people can also check out the Johnson City Community Theatre, East Tennessee State University and Blue Moon Dinner Theatre for plays and musicals. In neighboring Abingdon, Va., the Barter Theatre hosts a mix of nationally and internationally known productions, as well as showcases world premiere plays. Just a short car ride away is Bristol Motor Speedway, a longtime attraction for the thousands who visit each March and August for NASCAR races and events. “We, as the Johnson City, Jonesborough, Washington County Chamber and Convention Visitors Bureau, we certainly market Johnson City, but we’re equally proud to market a region known as Northeast Tennessee,” Mabrey said. “We have a great regional visitor industry and we are attractive to tourists for all kinds of reasons.” For more information, visit www.johnsoncitytnchamber. com or

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Faith in the Future Johnson City and Elizabethton leaders work to be good neighbors Sunday, March 30, 2014

Johnson City Press, Page 15E

By MAX HRENDA Press Staff Writer

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Johnson City city limit sign

Though there are times when Johnson City and Elizabethton compete with one another, the two cities have a few common traits, as well. Both cities were among the earliest settlements of Northeast Tennessee. Both cities are seeking economic expansion. They even both share a county, with part of Johnson City expanding into West Carter County. With those shared traits and goals in mind, local economic development experts agree that, over time, the lines between Elizabethton and Johnson City will become harder to discern. “I can certainly see that happening,” said Mitch Miller, chief executive officer of the Washington County Economic Development Council. “I do think it will take some time. That could be 10 to 15-plus years out.” “Eventually, there will be no difference,” said Tom Anderson, president of Carter County Tomorrow, the county’s economic development board. “You’ll go directly from Johnson City to Elizabethton without

knowing you’ve crossed a line.” Part of the reason for what could be an inevitable convergence of the two cities might be their mutual presence in Carter County. According to Anderson, though Elizabethton has seen some expansion of its internal businesses, wooing external businesses can sometimes depend on the Johnson City section of Carter County because of its close proximity to Interstate 26. “That’s our only interstate exit, so it has a lot of potential for us,” Anderson said, referring to the area near Okolona Road in southern Johnson City. In addition to the interstate’s close proximity, Anderson said that, because of the presence of nearby homes and businesses, land was closer to becoming physically developed than other land parcels in Carter County. “We’ve got an almost pad-ready site,” Anderson said. “It’s already disturbed soil, so it’s already further down the road to being developed. I think Johnson City sees that, also.” Miller agreed development that could be mutually beneficial to both Johnson City and Elizabethton was possible, however, he added that both areas needed to improve

their lines of communication to help establish them. “We need to do more planning on the side of how we can better partner together and utilize resources from a funding standpoint to look at business opportunities,” Miller said. “Maybe this is the first hurdle that can be crossed — as far as really communicating — with the Tweetsie Trail.” Miller added that the planning process for the Tweetsie Trail — the 6-mile former railroad track connecting Johnson City and Elizabethton — has already served to enhance communication between the two cities. “That’s really bringing the municipalities closer together, because it’s transportation (and) it’s recreation,” Miller said. If the municipalities continue to grow closer together, and businesses and houses continue to fill the green spaces between them, Anderson said that, in the future, it might be hard to distinguish one city from the other. “I think it’s just a logical thing that’s going to happen,” Anderson said. “They border us, and our growth boundaries touch, as far as planning. “Eventually, there will be no difference.”

Tech upgrades benefit JCT customers By BECKY CAMPBELL Senior Reporter

Public transportation customers with a cellphone now have Johnson City’s bus system at their fingertips with innovative technology implemented last year. The update was just the latest in the last several years, all aimed at improving the riding experience. In November, Johnson City Transit unveiled the new system that includes real time information, text messaging capabilities and is linked with Google Maps and Google Transit to ensure all riders have accurate and updated information while utilizing public transit. According to city officials, all JCT fixedroute buses now have mobile data computers called Rangers. Through an automatic vehicle location system and management software, information is available through a texting system and to JCT dispatchers. “This device is on each vehicle in the fleet,” said Jeff Rawles, Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization project manager, during a presentation of the new system last year. He went on to say the system helps drivers capture ridership in certain categories as they board and exit the bus. The previous method was a clipboard using a pen and making a tick mark, he said. Another feature on the updated buses is an automatic stop announcement system that audibly announces each stop and scrolls the name of the route stop across an LED screen mounted at the front of the bus. “The stops are automatically shown on this sign, in conjunction with being able to make the announcements overhead through the speaker system,” Rawles said. “This is a

key component for Transit in terms of meeting ADA requirements for individuals with any type of limited sight or hearing disabilities.” With the real-time information addition, riders also can send a text message to see the next three departure times for that particular route. Bus stop signs were upgraded system wide, with the top part of the Transit sign featuring the schedule and the bottom half with text messaging information. Riders waiting on a bus to arrive can send a text message to 41411, and in the body of the message include the unique code on the sign. For example, a rider could text “jcts rd 1217” to 41411, which would translate as the South Roan Street and Highland Avenue stop on the Red Route. The system would then send a text back with the next three departure times. To refresh the departure times sent in the text message, reply “R” to the message received. The JCT also has created a second website –– –– where riders of the system can utilize several route planning and mapping options, including a “Trip Planner” that links to Google Maps. The Trip Planner will instruct riders to enter a start address and a destination address with a “Depart now,” “Depart at,” and “Arrive at” drop down option, and then they hit “Get Directions” to link to the Google Maps website. Also on the website is a “Transit Map” tab that will give users a visual map of a route’s stops, as well as a schedule component that will provide a rider with the standard schedule times of a specific route. The “My Account” tab, Rawles said, could be useful for frequent riders. “For anybody that maybe rides the bus on a daily basis ... for work five days a week and they catch the same bus every day at

the same time, they can have this account set up to send them an automatic text message (on the bus’ updated departure times),” he said. Rawles said feedback on the technology has been positive. “In terms of texting and Google Transit, we’ve had really good feedback,” he said. “Most people say it’s user friendly and it’s accurate for them.” These improvements came on the heels of other upgrades over the past three years. The JC Transit logo was revamped in 2010 in conjunction with the system’s 30th anniversary. There were also several accomplishments that year, including: ■ purchase of 22 new mass transit buses — 15 new 30-foot buses for fixed route and seven small buses for demand response. ■ installation of the new JCT logo on vehicles, at the Transit Center and on the transit website. ■ renovations completed to the Transit Center, including an upgrade of the electrical system and restoration of the exterior surface ■ receipt of a $1.4 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant from FTA for the purchase of revenue vehicles, passenger waiting shelters and technology. In the fiscal year 2011, the transit system installed 20 benches and three passenger waiting shelters at new locations on JCT routes. “We’re in a pretty good spot right now,” Rawles said. The only upgrade in the works right now is a project to put video cameras in all mass transit buses, he said. “We have it approved” through the city commission, he said. “It’s something the transit director had been looking at for a while. It will tie into our system.” For more information, visit or call 929-7119.

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Elizabethton city limit sign

Home sales make comeback By BECKY CAMPBELL Senior Reporter

If you’re looking to buy or build a house in the Tri-Cities — particularly Johnson City — there is plenty out there to decide upon, but the market is favoring the seller as home prices increased. First, in pre-owned home sales, there was a year-overyear increase in 2013 with 45 more homes sold than 2012. It’s still below a pre-recession benchmark set in 2008, but the average sale price continued to favor the seller with the average price $12,142 better than 2012 and $5,523 over 2008. “Sales and prices outperformed the monthly 2012 and 2008 housing market pace for most of 2013,” said Louie Leach, president of the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors. “Both the local and national housing outlook for 2014 is positive.” According to Leach, several things hurt home sales last year, including tight credit and a rise in mortgage rates from recordlows. Both caused some buyers to be hesitant to buy, he said. According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage last month was 4.46 percent. It was 3.35 percent in December 2012. “Most analysts expect rates to be in the 5 percent range later this year. That’s still a bargain when you look at what they

were before the recession,” Leach said. In the new construction market, Johnson City led the region in 2013 for new home building, according to the National Homebuilder’s Association’s leading market rankings. The Johnson City Metropolitan Statistical Area ranked seventh in the nation for economic and housing market performance. That index is based on permits, home prices and employment. According to Leach, annual home sales in Washington County and Johnson City last year was $243.8 million compared to $210.1 million in 2012. Foreclosure accounted for 13.4 percent of existing city/ county home sales last year, down from 15.2 percent in 2012. Leach said foreclosures were less of a price anchor because the inventory has come down. So has the discount rate. “That means they were exerting less downward pressure on the price non-stressed sales could command,” Leach said. “New filings have decreased, and the Johnson City Metropolitan Statistics Area foreclosure rate is nearing a pre-recession level.” The average days on market before a home sold in December was 171, one day less than December 2012 and 11 days more than it was in November. For more information or reports on city/county markets, call NETAR at 477-0040 or email

Erwin  Continued from Page 1E residential community to progress and expand and grow,” Rosenoff said. Another project that is scheduled for completion soon is Erwin’s Railyard Park, which will include a skate park and playground area. This project was recommended by the firm that previously completed the town’s downtown revitalization master plan. Rosenoff said if the skatepark is well-maintained, it will provide skating and bicycling enthusiasts in the area with a destination for the next 20 to 30 years. Another major project the town intends to begin soon is the Erwin Downtown Trail Connector. This project would connect the existing Erwin Linear Trail trailhead, located across from Pal’s restaurant, to the skate park, the Unicoi County Public Library, the Veteran’s Memorial Park, Gentry Stadium and the local Little League baseball field. Rosenoff said the project would enhance local health and recreation opportunities by giving citizens walking access to more areas in town, but it would also serve to bolster the local economy, as people taking advantage of the connector trail may spend more time, and money, within the town at shops and restaurants. “That trail, again, is a longterm investment in the town,” Rosenoff said. “The use of it will be trans-generational, it will go beyond generations, and that’s what we’re looking for, is ‘what’s the return on our investment?’ It’s long-term impact.” Rosenoff said the town is pursuing a state grant for this trail project, and town officials hope to hear something regarding the grant’s approval sometime this summer. The South Industrial Drive upgrade project, which will fix the road that serves businesses with the Riverview Industrial Park and is being undertaken by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, should be bid out in May, Rosenoff said. This

project aims to repair South Industrial Drive, and Rosenoff said the repairs will benefit businesses within the industrial park well beyond 2020. Rosenoff said the town is also looking at ways to revitalize Fishery Park for long-term use. He said this could include structural improvements, infrastructure and new lighting. Other upgrades could be on their way to the downtown area. Rosenoff said town officials are working with Erwin Utilities to look at the possibility of installing an electric car charger in the courthouse parking lot, as well as set up a wi-fi network to serve those in downtown Erwin. The town is also looking to have an industry fill the old Morgan Insulation building, which the town previously purchased as an industrial recruitment tool. With the investments the town has made in itself, Rosenoff said he projects that business off of the Main Street Exit and through the downtown area will continue to grow in the coming years. “There’s a lot of activity and excitement,” he said. “The goal is we want to keep our community here if possible — when they get out of school here, they have job opportunities here.” The town of Unicoi will continue its work to bring the Mountain Harvest Community Kitchen project to fruition throughout 2014. The town is looking to break ground on the facility, which will alllow users to process their own food and town officials hope will serve as a business incubator, in 2015, Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch said. Plans call for the facility to be located next to the town’s Visitors Information Center and, in February, the town’s board of mayor and aldermen approved a measure to purchase property next to the visitors center for the community kitchen project. The town of Unicoi has also begun its Tanasi Heritage and Arts Center project by displaying works from local artists

at the Unicoi Visitors Information Center off Exit 32. But, in the coming years, the town intends to continue work, including seeking funding sources, to construct a standalone Tanasi facility adjacent to the Pinnacle Fire Tower Trail trailhead. Plans are also in place to bring enhancements to the Unicoi Visitors Information Center property in the coming months and years. The town is looking to install electric car chargers on the property, as well as construct an informational kiosk to provide visitors with information on local businesses and attractions at all hours. Lynch said the town also would like to construct a pavilion for the Unicoi Farmers Market, which is held at the visitors center site. The town also has another pavilion in mind. Lynch said the town wants to make further improvements to the pavilion located at the Pinnacle Fire Tower Trail trailhead. Lynch said the town is hoping to add onto the pavilion and expand it

within the next five years, and is working to obtain permits from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to expand the parking area off Exit 32 for trail users. Lynch said town officials hope to be able to expand the parking area within the next couple of years. Although not a town of Unicoi project, Lynch said the U.S. Forest Service is looking to add another walking trail within the town’s limits in the next 5 to 10 years. He said this interpretive trail would be in the Limestone Cove area, next to where the Cherokee Hotshots are located along Tenn. Highway 107. By 2020, Mountain States Health Alliance will have likely completed the new Unicoi County Memorial Hospital. Both Rosenoff and Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch feel this will have a residual effect, as it will not only enhance development in the area around the new hospital, but throughout the county. Greg Lynch also said he expects to see further development on the county’s southern

end in conjunction with the state park at the Rocky Fork area by 2020. He said he hopes to see more businesses set up along the Temple Hill, Clear Branch and Flag Pond exits off Interstate 26. The county mayor also said this would supplement the county’s local option sales tax. “I think you’ll see that increase as you see more people coming into the county,” Greg Lynch said. “Of course, I think you’ll see more hotel and motel tax that we’ll be getting.” The county mayor said he hopes the county’s industrial base will continue to grow in the next few years. “I would hope that by 2020, through the city’s efforts, we’ll have industry at the Morgan Insulation plant, and then there’s another site or two in Unicoi County where the topog-

raphy of the land and location in regards to the interstate and the railroad would make it suitable for industry,” he said. “We’ve identified a couple of areas, and I think that’s going to be kind of the focus of the economic development board from this point.” But Lynch said the county and its municipalities are now seeing many “back to basics” efforts, including the promotion of trails and the town of Unicoi’s planned community kitchen. He said the county still has plenty of farm land, meaning agricultural growth could occur over the next six years. “I look forward to 2020,” he said. “I feel fortunate to have been involved in the last eight years in this process, and I hope that something I’ve done has helped the county.”

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Technology keeps students, teachers, administrators learning as they go By MAX HRENDA Press Staff Writer

Some readers may remember what it was like in school to take notes from a lesson written on a chalkboard. As time marches on, however, and advances in technology continue to march along with it, more and more traditional teaching methods and tools are being left behind in favor of newer ones. “I don’t know that there’s a chalkboard left in Washington County Schools,” said William Flanary, Washington County Schools secondary supervisor. “Kids don’t learn that way. They expect to see the bells and whistles, and we’re putting it in front of them.” Flanary may have been speaking literally when he said “in front of them.” In the Washington County system, most of the classrooms are equipped with interactive SMART Boards. “It’s a 5-by-5-foot board that interacts with the teacher’s classroom computer,” Flanary said. “It’s like having a 5-foot monitor in front of the kids. But, instead of using a mouse at the teacher’s desk, you can actually tap the thing.” The SMART Board works similarly to the average computer tablet. Students are able to select items on the screen, “drag and drop” them, play video, manipulate 3-D images and perform other such functions that one might also do on an iPad or similar device. In addition to their functionality, the boards can also be used to create a level of interaction that had previously been absent in the classroom. Debra Bentley, supervisor of instruction and curriculum at Johnson City Schools — which also uses the interactive boards in its classrooms — said the boards can be used to virtually take students outside of the classroom. “We can take a virtual field trip to a glacier and literally interact with someone standing on that glacier,” Bentley said. “We don’t just have to open a book and read about what a glacier is and where they’re located. Technology has brought the world into classroom.” Though the technology can be used to open up the world for students, those students can, at times, bring the world inside the classroom in their pockets. Bentley added that Johnson City Schools has become more accepting of students bringing cellphones into school — for educational purposes, that is. “In today’s classrooms, a student can take a test with their cell phone, or a teacher can flash questions on the Promethean board, and students can answer using their cellphones by texting a code,” Bentley said. “It has become very, very popular in classrooms.” In recognition of the potential uses of students’ cellphones, Flanary said the Washington County system has adjusted its cellphone policy, as well. “We used to have a cellphone policy, but we’ve given up on that,” Flanary said. “You’re not going to keep personal devices out of these schools. The students can now use their smartphone or flip phone to get with a website, and they can actually interact with their teacher’s computers with the phone that they brought with them.” While the boards can offer students a new avenue for actively interacting with their education, Flanary said Washington County students have shown an increasing propensity not only for using the boards, but using them with confidence. “A teacher can call a 10-yearold to the board, the SMART Board, and they’re not afraid of it,” Flanary said. “They’ll put their hands on it and pick up on it instantly. They’re not afraid to make mistakes and learn from it.” Though there are times when individual students are called to participate in front of the whole class, there are other instances and assignments that require every student’s response. For those moments, Johnson City Schools has taken to using mobile computer labs. “These are portable labs that can be rolled into classrooms where every student takes a laptop or iPad,” Bentley said. “Activities can be done by a whole-group instruction means.” Washington County also has started using mobile computer labs, though, Flanary said, it is a work in progress. “We can’t get by anymore with one computer lab at a school the size of Daniel Boone High Schools with 1,300 or 1,400 kids,” Flanary said. “What we’re doing, as the money becomes available, is putting in portable laptop carts (in high schools). We are adding those as the funds are allowed.” Schools’ technological

said both schools have seen a spike in production from their students. For Unaka, Taylor said the virtual painter has accelerated some of the younger students into the actual painting room. “The teacher at Unaka with the virtual painter, he now has sophomores that he’s actually turned loose in the paint booth,” Taylor said. “He can already tell a huge difference in them simply because they’ve practiced so much on that virtual painter, with the muscle memory, the feel, how to adjust the gun and the technique itself.” Since purchasing the 3-D printer for Hampton High,

enhancements are not limited to information technology, either. In January 2013, the Carter County Schools system purchased two advanced machines aimed at improving the system’s career and technical education program. Through the efforts of CTE Director Mickey Taylor, Unaka High School received a virtual spray painting program, which uses virtual reality glasses and a pressure-simulating paint gun, for its auto body class, while Hampton High School’s computer-aided design course received a 3-D printer, which creates a plastic rendition of the designs students create in class. More than a year after making the two major purchases, Taylor


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Progress 2014

Page 18E, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Scout projects to improve vast recreational opportunities By TONY CASEY Press Staff Writer

Local Eagle Scouts get a big thumbsup from Johnson City’s Connie Deegan for their efforts in bettering the area’s recreation scene. Deegan, park naturalist and program coordinator with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said many of the opportunities for recreation around the area won’t cost anything but a bit of effort. “It doesn’t cost you anything,” Deegan said. “All you need is a pair of sneakers.” Johnson City’s biggest upcoming project to improve recreation will

come in the way of the Tweetsie Trail, a 10-mile stretch of a former railroad line that starts on Alabama Street near the Johnson City Cardinals baseball stadium and travels down into Elizabethton, crossing several bridges and encompassing scenic views, including a quarry just about three miles from the start of the trail. Completion of the project is expected by Labor Day, and will be kicked off a with a fun run that ties in the history of the local railroad. Deegan’s crews, including interns and aspiring Eagle Scouts, also have things lined up to better recreational experience around Johnson City. For brand-new hikes, Deegan said she is excited to say work continues on the trail at the new Sinking Creek

Park, off King Springs Road. Recently, the Sinking Creek Stream Restoration Project team helped to remove stagnant water and junk from the banks of the creek and open up the area for trails. This has given Deegan’s East Tennessee State University interns a chance to work, and, as Deegan put it, “emphasize the cool features of the park,” which would include rock outcrops and impressive trees. Informational signs, a new parking lot and proper trails have been some of the features added in the park’s perimeter, but it will still be a few months before the park is ready to have many visitors. Aspiring Eagle Scouts are trying to complete their projects with improvements on Buffalo Mountain Park and

Willow Springs Park. Deegan says she has one Scout working on the signage on Buffalo Mountain that should be complete soon. On another portion of the park, she has another Scout improving the deadend trail that starts at the end of the Buffalo Mountain Road just before it is gated off. His goal will be to model the first bridge used to cover the stream on the trail, and replicate it for the following two crossings. Deegan said to her personally, there’s nothing wrong with getting your feet a little wet, but she has seen the deterioration of the banks around the crossing parts of the stream, and that erosion is the No. 1 cause of pollution in the state — something she takes very seriously.

Bat boxes at Willow Springs Park are another Scout project that will benefit Johnson City as a whole, Deegan said. Bats often are given a bad rap, she said, and by them having ample living quarters in the form of open-bottom, rough-cut bat houses, they will continue to eat mosquitoes and other pesky summer bugs. “Bats are awesome,” Deegan said, and she is excited to have the bat boxes complete for the park. Deegan recommends residents get out and see the Blue Bell flowers at Winged Deer Park, which will be blooming in well in the first few weeks of April. She said visitors can access the Blue Bell patch from either side of Winged Deer Park.

Stand Down event connects veterans, services By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press

ETSU Band at the Johnson City Sessions at Down Home

Johnson City reintroduced to its musical history, roots By JENNIFER SPROUSE This past year, Johnson City was reintroduced to a musical past that for a long time was forgotten. The 1928 Johnson City Sessions –– a four-day period in October of that year –– recorded a variety of local musicians at 334 E. Main St., in what used to be the Marshall Brothers Lumber Co. building, and the 1929 Sessions were just recently discovered to have been recorded in the Loaves and Fishes white brick building connected to West Main Street Christian Church in downtown Johnson City. In April, a Tennessee Historic Marker was unveiled at the corner of East Main Street and Colonial Way to celebrate the 1928 Sessions recorded in the lumber company building around that same area. Some notable musicians that recorded during the Sessions included Charlie Bowman, Clarence “Tom” Ashley, Clarence Greene and the Roane County Ramblers. A Johnson City Sessions Weekend was held Oct. 17-20, which included the release of

CD box set “Johnson City Sessions 1928-1929: Can you Sing or Play Old-Time Music?” Ted Olson, professor of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University and co-producer of the box set, along with his colleague, Tony Russell, gave a presentation at the Carroll Reece Museum. Olson, Russell and Richard Weize, CEO of Bear Family Records, which produced the box set, discussed the significance of the recordings on WETS-FM 89.5 that weekend, as well as celebrated the release of the recordings at a box set release party at the Down Home. A Boots, Blues and BBQ VIP Gala Event was held for descendents of the 1928-1929 Sessions musicians before the finale of the weekend with a taping of the “Mountain Stage with Larry Groce” radio show. “Mountain Stage” was held at the Martha Street Culp Auditorium at the D.P. Culp University Center at ETSU and included musical acts such as Darrell Scott & Tim O’Brien, Sarah Jarosz, Old Man Luedecke, The Deadly Gentlemen and the ETSU Old-Time Pride Band.

Technology  Continued from Page 17E Taylor said Carter County had purchased “the latest” to maximize students’ production. “For Hampton, they’ve done really well in competitions,” Taylor said. “Anything the kids can design and then see produced is an attention-grabber. I think that’s added so much to the CAD program.” Because of those spikes in student production, Taylor said the machines, though expensive, were worth the cost. “I would have to say, a year

Johnson City’s Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church has a long history of partnerships to bolster the community’s resources. For many years Munsey has worked with other churches and with Good Samaritan Ministries to make space available for The Melting Pot emergency dining room for anyone in need. It’s been the site of parties for women incarcerated in the Johnson City jail and their children. It’s hosted Scouting programs, health conferences, seminars, workshops and special programs on a gamut of social issues and concerns. But when Munsey joined forces with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home and nearly 50 local government and nonprofit services that work to help the region’s homeless veterans, it raised the bar on community networking projects. Held Oct. 11 in Munsey’s Christian Life Center, the Community Stand Down for Homeless Veterans attracted approximately 150 veterans from across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, including many who were living on the street, in shelters or in a variety of transitional settings designed to help get them back on their feet. Patterned after a traditional military stand down in which front-line soldiers are taken out of combat for medical attention, food, clothing and rest, the event included a distribution of military surplus, clothing, boots and shoes, rucksacks and sleeping bags. Free haircuts and showers were made available to anyone in need. There was a free continental breakfast and a barbecue lunch served up by a small army of volunteers who came to show their appreciation for the veterans.

Ron Campbell/Johnson City

At least 150 homeless veterans and 47 regional service agencies turned out for Stand Down to connect veterans with services including VA benefits, housing, food, clothing, legal assistance, health care, eye exams, education and employment help and more. And then were the services and resources the event was intended to help the veterans access: free health screenings, eye exams and glasses, legal assistance with untapped veterans benefits, housing resources, mental health counseling, physical rehabilitation, assistance dogs, employment and job training services, educational opportunities and more — all spread out across the floor of the church auditorium. Jeremy Adams, a 27-year-old Army veteran with multiple service-related injuries suffered in Iraq, was among the youngest veterans served at the stand down. With an income of $129 a month in combatrelated disability for a shrapnel injury that left him without the use of his right hand, Adams had recently moved from the VAMC domiciliary to a transitional veterans group home and

Our House Restaurant out, it was money well spent,” he said. Whether a school chooses to upgrade its information technology or to purchase advanced hardware, according to Bentley, those upgrades may prove futile without the guidance and instruction of a good teacher. “We would never say that a classroom could be very effective without the teacher,” Bentley said. “We never see a classroom as being just with rows and cubicles of computers and monitors. We really value the highly effective teacher that uses it in a very balanced way.”


at the restaurant, which also offers traditional Southern dishes and a variety of weekend and daily specials. Our House is located in the old Boones Creek Pottery building on the north edge of Johnson City, off the Boones Creek exit on Highway 36 – a road that’s a continuation of North Roan Street and a historic commuting route between Kingsport and Johnson City. The restaurant isn’t the only new business that’s taking route as the road is widened from two lanes to four, Angie said; a new hotel is under construction nearby. When the road construction is and the highway’s longtime traffic pattern returns, she said, she hopes that Our House will become a local staple among the growth to come. 4903 North Roan Street Gray, TN (north edge of Johnson City) (423) 282-1555

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Tri-Cities Pediatric Endocrinology, P.L.L.C., Dr. Mary Gwyn Roper, M.D., F.A.A.P. is now open and accepting patients at her Johnson City and Kingsport offices. Dr. Roper, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, is board certified in pediatric endocrinology, and is also a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She specializes in short stature, growth/ pubertal disorders, thyroid disorders, and Turner syndrome. Having Turner Syndrome herself, Dr. Roper feels she is able to bring a unique perspective to her work, allowing her to relate to her patients on a more personal level. After completing her pediatric residency at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Dr. Roper then did

her pediatric endocrinology fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Roper spent 10 years as a pediatric endocrinologist at the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, prior to recently starting her own practice here in the Tri-Cities area. Tri-Cities Pediatric Endocrinology, P.L.L.C has two convenient offices in the area. The Johnson City location is open on Mondays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Kingsport location is open on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Both offices are closed for lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on their respective days. For an appointment with Dr.Roper, please call 423-483-0828 or fax:423546-4103.

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Edward Feldner and his dog, Pepper III, at the stand down

Tri-Cities Pediatric Endocrinology, P.L.L.C.

After a strong start despite ongoing road construction, Our House Restaurant is looking forward to some great years ahead, growing along with the north end of Johnson City as traffic returns to Highway 36. “As far as competing with established, well-known national chains, we’re doing good,” said Angie Tolley, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Andy. Lifelong residents of the area, the Tolleys opened their restaurant in August; they also do a lot of large-event catering out of Our House. “We try to take care of the community, and we try to provide an excellent quality of food. That’s what we pride ourselves on: the choice ingredients that we use,” said Angie. “The reason it’s called Our House is that everybody’s welcome; it’s just like our house.” Smoked steaks are the featured specialty

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was awaiting ruling on his appeal of his 10 percent disability award. Adams said he was trying to “get back on my feet and be proud of myself again” and was most pleased by a couple of leads on job opportunities for people with disabilities and an avenue to college enrollment he found at the stand down. David Shields, the social work outreach specialist for VAMC’s Homeless Program who coordinated the stand down, was pleased with the number of veterans who turned out for the event and with the many and varied services delivered to them. “We’re going to make this an annual event,” Shields said. “It’s been 20 years since Johnson City has had one, and we’re going to keep it up from here on,” he said.

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Faith in the Future

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Johnson City Press, Page 19E

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Progress 2014

Page 20E, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Samples takes lead at Family Promise By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press

A scene from the Hankal building dedication

Dr. Hankal honored with building name

NHC Johnson City

By BECKY CAMPBELL Press Senior Reporter

There’s no disputing that Dr. Hezekiah B. Hankal played a vital role in the medical and social community of Johnson City. And now, there is a way local residents can see how important he was to the area. Earlier this year, the Washington County Health Department building was dedicated to honor Hankal. It was a long-fought mission of the Langston Heritage Group and the Boones Creek Historical Trust. Members of the Langston Heritage Group and the Boones Creek Historical Trust, as well as elected officials from Johnson City, Washington County and Jonesborough gathered in February at the health department to dedicate the building in honor of Dr. Hankal. Born in 1825 and raised by a German family in Boones Creek, Hankal would become the first black man in Washington County to hold a teaching certificate. He was an educator who established the first school for blacks in

Late last year, Agnes Samples became the executive director of Family Promise of Greater Johnson City, a nonprofit network of churches that shelter and assist homeless families with children. Samples, who replaced Brian Rosecrance at the helm of the group, formerly known as Interfaith Hospitality Network, has been tasked with leading the organization through the implementation of its five-year “2X strategic plan” to double the number of families its serves. Selected from a field of 48 applicants from across the country, Samples came to Family Promise after two years of service as executive director of the St. Vincent De Paul ministry for the homeless and poor in Billings, Mont. A Johnson City native, she was previously employed for nearly 20 years as an associate professor of public health at East Tennessee State University and at Montana State University in Billings.

Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

Anges Samples, executive director of Family Promise Rosecrance, who retired from Family Promise in December after 13 years as its executive director, said Samples’ roots in the Johnson City community was one of several attributes that led the board to her selection. “She has front line experience as a nonprofit executive director,” Rosecrance said. “She’s very community minded. And she is all about strategic planning, which is what I think most impressed all of us on the (search) committee.

“She knows how to network. And because she comes from here, she is very connected with this community.” Samples is a graduate of Science Hill High School and earned her doctorate of education, masters’ degree in public health administration and bachelor’s degree in school health education at ETSU. Prior to her return to Johnson City, she was a volunteer with the Family Promise organization in Billings for more than six years.

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a city alderman in the late 1880s, also something unheard of in those days. A historic marker in front of West Main Street Christian Church (which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places as the oldest church building and school building still standing in Johnson City) sums up Hankal’s life nicely: Dr. Hezekiah Hankal 1825-1903 Minister. Physician. Educator. Politician. And now we can add: Remembered.

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Faith in the Future

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Johnson City Press, Page 21E

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 67th 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

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It’s a true pleasure for our family to have served you for 67 years. Thank you from all of us at BROYLES FLORIST. Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Paleontologist Dr. Steven Wallace talks about the fossil finds this year at the Gray Fossil Site.

Top, turtle fossils, and above, a preparator works at the Gray Fossil Site.

Gray Fossil Site continues to discover By JENNIFER SPROUSE The Gray Fossil Site’s 2013 dig proved to be plentiful, as paleontologists discovered new specimens and added them to existing collections found in earlier digs. “We have dug probably less than 2 percent of the entire site,” said Dr. Steven Wallace, museum curator and site director. “When you think of how big the site is, and how deep the site is, and all of these little puts that we’ve dug here and there ... we’ve dug so little, yet we’ve found so many cool things.” One of the cool things they’ve dug up lately includes a new, larger red panda specimen that is a fairly complete skeleton only missing part of one hind leg and part of the tail.

Wallace said the red panda skeleton was said to be significantly larger than the first red panda they found on the site, saying the new discovery was probably three times the size of a living red panda. Some other finds have included horse fossils, which are rare for the Gray site, as well as camel hoof core material. A big find during the 2013 season was a nearly complete alligator skeleton, which Wallace said was closely related to today’s alligator, but the two are probably two different species. A second type of beaver was also uncovered this year in Gray. “We do have beavers at the site, and for a long time we only had one kind. It was about the size of a muskrat,” Wallace said. “This last summer out on

the spoil piles, which were from the original construction of the museum itself, one of our workers actually found a foot bone that’s a modern-sized beaver. My guess is the one that’s the size of the modern beaver was probably living a lot like a modern beaver, but the smaller one probably was filling the modern role of a muskrat or something along those lines.” Some other finds included a peccary tusk, as well as a variety of three-dimensional tapir skulls. “Most of our skulls are pancakes. We find a turtle, we find anything, it’s usually a pancake and it takes forever to put back together. Occasionally, we get three-dimensional fossils, but until recently we didn’t have very many tapir skulls, or at least very many nice ones. We were excited to get it and

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what’s cool is that we have several different ages,” Wallace said. “This is one of our sort of ... claims to fame because not only is it a lot of individuals, but every age you can think of.” For more information on the East Tennessee State University Natural History Museum and Gray Fossil Site, call 866-202-6223 or visit www.

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Progress 2014

Page 22E, Johnson City Press

New student apartment complexes are in works By NATHAN BAKER Press Staff Writer

Construction is in full swing on a corner lot across from East Tennessee State University, where students will soon be living in style. Monarch 815, the 176-unit luxury student housing complex being built by Monarch Ventures, should be open this summer, in time for students to move in before the college’s fall semester. The North Carolina-based company purchased the former Mullican Flooring manufacturing site last year, and after a rezoning of the property to fit the new uses, demolished the 11 industrial buildings left behind when the company moved to its new, larger site. Billed as luxury student housing, Monarch 815 will provide services and amenities that may seem better suited at major hotels, including a large clubhouse, a resort-style pool, outdoor fire pit areas, exercise facilities, tanning beds and activities programming. Rent for the two- and fourbedroom units will start at $575, which includes utilities and furnishing. Monarch currently manages a handful of similar student housing properties in the South that similarly tout their luxurious amenities.

The complex could soon be joined by another, built on the other side of the railroad tracks with frontage on State of Franklin Road. The Franklin, as it’s being called by developer Coal Yard Restoration, would add 60 new student housing units on the property formerly used by ETSU to store its coal fuel, between Elizabethton Federal Savings Bank and University Parkway. Construction on the Franklin has not yet begun, but the Johnson City Commission approved the project in January. At that city meeting, architect Ken Ross said the developer would like to complete the complex by August. Coal Yard Restoration brought the project to the city in November 2011, asking for a rezoning of the property, and the city signed a development agreement in January 2012. Since then, the company and the city have been working on a plan to deal with the potential for flooding from the nearby Brush Creek, and part of the reason for the city meeting this year was to approve plans to move the building closer to the road and farther from the waterway. There are no rent prices yet assigned to the two- and threebedroom units, but the project will add 88 beds to the quickly developing apartment corridor flanking the university.

New bridge, connector road still in planning By GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

Preliminary plans are in place for a five-lane bridge and additional roadwork linking North State of Franklin Road northwest to Boones Creek Road. The plan first appeared five years ago in the form of a federal appropriation aimed at channeling traffic to a growing part of the city and county. That potential has not faded. Instead, the project — which would cost an estimated $15 million to $17 million when fully complete — has been resurrected. When finished, it not only will bypass what many know as the “tunnel” on Mountain View Road, it also will become an integral artery to and from commercial areas and subdivisions as well as offering opportunities for economic growth. The new route would begin in the general vicinity of Lowe’s off State of Franklin, hooking up with Mountain View. It then would tie in to

Knob Creek Road and extend to Boones Creek Road. Former Washington County Attorney John Rambo has said there is roughly $3 million on hand, which filtered down from the federal to the state level. Both the city and county are responsible for a 20-percent match, which they plan to split. “The county committed to this in 2008,” said County Mayor Dan Eldridge. “When we committed to it, it was a $5 million project. Still, this has the potential to really help economic development.” Johnson City Public Works Director Phil Pindzola said the bridge alone has been estimated at between $8 million to $10 million. He also has talked about how the tunnel can’t handle any more traffic. About $1.2 million each year will be allocated for the first phase of the project from Surface Transportation Funds through the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization, he said. Local engineering firm Tysinger, Hampton and Partners produced preliminary schematics.


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Hands On! welcomes new director By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer Andy Marquart came on board as the new executive director of Hands On! Regional Museum on Aug. 12. A native of Missouri, Marquart moved to Johnson City from Naples, Fla., where he served as executive director of the Golisano Children’s Museum. In announcing his selection, the Hands On! Board of Directors cited Marquart’s long history in the nonprofit museum sector and his passion for informal learning opportunities. Marquart’s began his career at the Discovery Center of Springfield, Mo., where he served as floor manager. He later worked his way up to director of the Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs, Ark., before being recruited away to the Golisano in Naples.

Upon learning of his new role at the helm of the Hands On!, Marquart expressed excitement about the opportunity to add to a museum with a 25-year “community legacy” and described it as being “ripe with possibilities.” “I believe that museums such as this are a community centerpiece where families can come together and discover ... as a place where the type of learning is truly deep and valuable enough to be a complimentary extension of the classroom for local schools,” he said. Marquart replaced former Hands On! Executive Director Ginna Kennedy, who resigned from the museum in February 2013. Founded in 1987, Hands On! marked its 25th anniversary in 2012. Since its opening, the museum has hosted more than 1.7 million visitors and grown from 10,000 to 22,000 square feet of permanent exhibit space.

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Andy Marquart with Fairmount Elementary School students from Bristol.

First Friday sees family friendly growth By JENNIFER SPROUSE Over the last year Johnson City’s First Friday has not only grown in size, but has also added family friendly activities that all can enjoy. Brandi Woodall said that was all part of her plan when she took over last year as First Friday director. “In the past, First Friday has always been marketed as a mini Blue Plum. That was a big set of shoes to fill, especially in that downtown corridor,” Woodall said. “What I tried to do was kind of put themes together and put it out there and see if that was something that the community and the attendees ... would really grab onto. I think some of them went really well.” First Friday, an event held the first Friday of each month –– March through December –– is where downtown merchants open their doors and extend their business hours to introduce, or even reintroduce, the community to what they do and what they are providing for the Johnson City area. The streets each month are shut down around 5 p.m. and First Friday activities officially kickoff around 6. The 2013 First Friday schedule included Johnson City Tartan Fest, Paint the Town Red, White and Blue and the Touch-A-Truck event paired with Hands On! Regional Museum’s birthday party. Woodall said one of the activities that really became a sought-after event during the March First Friday last year was a drumming circle spon-

sored by Campbell’s Morrell Music. “It was very cold in March,” she said. “The drum circle really kicked it off. We had quite a few people that would show up for the themes and they really really enjoyed that. What we saw was the curiosity of what’s going on downtown.” Some of the other themed events included a Back-toSchool party and an All-Classes Reunion with Science Hill High School alumni who held their individual class reunions at various places downtown during First Friday. “What I think I’ve learned from last year is that people really want to see more music at First Friday, and so I think that really is consistent with Blue Plum,” Woodall said. “People want to see a music series and so I’ve actually put together a task force for First Friday’s and it was made up of merchants and board members from Friends of Olde Downtowne on it, and just people who live in the community.” “What we’re looking at this year is trying to get the merchants in downtown to do more demonstrations, to stay open, do more of an open house on First Fridays so that people can come in and find out more about what we actually have to offer downtown,” she said. Instead of choosing to come for a specific First Friday event, Woodall said she hopes the monthly event will entice people to come downtown because they will know that activities are always going on and that there’s something everyone will enjoy.

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Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press

The First Friday Latino Festival drew a large turnout. She said during one of the First Friday events, she noticed people were sitting and listening to the music on the stage in front of Nelson Fine Art, as well as few people in the back dancing. “People have been waiting for this,” Woodall said. “They’ve been waiting for the opportunity to shut the streets down and get out and really just walk around and get to see what’s down there and be a part of their community. I think Johnson City needs that. It definitely gives you, if

nothing else, quality of life and pride in your community. There’s a lot more downtown than there has been in many, many years and I think First Friday is the chance for downtown merchants to welcome the community in, but it’s also on the part of the community to say ‘we support you.’ ” For information on First Friday events and activities, visit the Facebook page at jcfirstfriday or at

Frontier Health Frontier Health’s tradition to address emerging needs and tackle health care gaps and evolving social problems continues with current targets aimed at decreasing prescription drug abuse, reducing recidivism rates, decreasing school disciplinary problems and improving overall behavioral health. In 2013, Frontier Health began providing Individual Placement and Support in cooperation with the Tennessee departments of Rehabilitative Services and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The program is for individuals with severe mental illness who have complex, severe limitations or who are at high risk for failure. Since beginning in October, the program has successfully placed three individuals. At the beginning of the school year, Frontier Health received funding to expand regional school-based services. A coordinator was added at Mountain View Elementary thanks to a Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services System of Care grant. Frontier Health added additional staff time for school-based services in Carter and Unicoi counties. Frontier offers school-based services

in Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties; Elizabethton, Kingsport and Johnson City systems. The Mountain View program provides immediate access to care including counseling, parenting classes, in-home case management, crisis services and psychiatric services and the Arts Club after-school enrichment program. The Greenwood Challenge Ropes Course added a new element, the Vertical Challenge, and served 491 participants in 2013. The Johnson City course is a carefully planned outdoor learning environment where both mental and physical problem-solving activities are designed to resolve group challenges. The regional Community Justice Program that began in 2013 facilitates community, criminal justice and behavioral health to decriminalize mental illness, co-occurring and substance abuse disorders, promote jail diversion services and liaison case management for those incarcerated or at risk of incarceration. Recovery Court programs were established in Hawkins, Sullivan, and Washington, expanded services in Greene, and are available in the four other Region 1 counties.

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Faith in the Future

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Johnson City Press, Page 23E

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Standing left to right: Robert “Don” Arnold – Sessions Judge, JacK Daniels - Trustee , Robert Lincoln – Sessions Judge, James Nidiffer – Sessions Judge, Scott Buckingham – Assessor of Property, Ed Graybeal – Sheriff, John Deakins - Highway Superintendent Seated left to right: maybell stewart – administrator of elections, Ginger Jilton – Register of Deeds, Brenda Sneyd – Clerk and Master, Dan Eldridge – County Mayor, Karen Guinn – Circuit Court Clerk, Kathy Storey – County Clerk

Progress 2014

Page 24E, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ear Technology Corporation

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Right, Unicoi County Animal Shelter Director Jessica Blevins. Inset, Debbie Dobbs, director of the Washington County/ Johnson City Animal Control Center.

New shelter, upgrades to make adoptions easier By TONY CASEY Press Staff Writer

The possibility of a new animal shelter in Washington County has assistant director of the Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter Joy Sexton excited for the future. In her mind, more space, and especially more indoor space, will make the job of caring for the animals and presenting the animals to the public for adoption a much easier task. At a recent monthly meeting, Animal Control Board members approved the design of a $2.3 million barn-shaped building that will serve as the new animal shelter for Washington County and Johnson City at 3411 N. Roan St. Construction is projected to begin in April, if all goes according to plan, as was reported in the Johnson City Press on Jan. 16. Sexton said an all-indoor shelter would make it much warmer for both the pets and the employees. She pointed to recent temperatures in the negatives in showing how hard it is to even keep a dog’s water from freezing. The dogs sleep well in their nearly 100 kennels, said Sexton, but the logistics of keeping everything running smoothly would be much easier with a new shelter. The cats would benefit the most from extra space, she said, hoping it would open up room for the influx of cats that come every summer when feline numbers increase. The number can sometimes go from 30 to 100 from the winter season to the summer. “It will be a much nicer presentation for the public,” Sexton said, calling the current situation “dire circumstances.” Worked into the accepted plans are 9,000 square feet of kennel space and about 6,600 square feet of office space. As far as where the money would come from, Johnson City has vowed to give $1.5 million to the first phase of the project, which would require about $600,000 more being collected in donations and includes

BedinABox brings economic comfort to the downtown area By TONY CASEY Press Staff Writer

A new location for Bill Bradley’s mattress company is set to reap benefits for the local economy., owned by Bradley, is well known for selling its high-quality memory foam mattresses across North America and has moved to a downtown location at East Millard Street. Riding numbers showing solid growth, Bradley said the new location could bring about anywhere from 25 to 50 jobs in upcoming months. “We first started our business in Johnson City and we outgrew the small building that we were in and moved to Piney Flats into a 150,000-square-foot building,” he said to the Johnson City Press in an early July article. “We eventually sold that building and this building was available. It had high visibility from the interstate, which we were interested in ... I have a machine shop just across the street from this building and that has been a really good thing for me, because I’m right here at both of my businesses.”

pledges for funding from the county. A second possible phase for the shelter would include an extra 5,000 square feet for office space and upward of 4,000 square feet for more kennel space. Up for further consideration would be a spay and neuter clinic and a meeting room for guests considering adoption. The spay and neuter clinic already has $50,000 in donations put aside for equipment. The project still welcomes any kind of donations that can be offered. They can be directed to Washington CountyJohnson City Animal Shelter Director Debbie Dobbs at 9268769, or Johnson City Mayor and fundraising chairman Ralph Van Brocklin at 946-5387. Unicoi County faces some financial issues with recent news that no solution has been reached by County Mayor Greg Lynch and members of the Unicoi County Animal Welfare Board, so county animal shelter Jessica Blevins is using smaller projects to improve her current shelter’s situation. “We’re trying to improve the shelter we have,” Blevins said. With the pound right next door, Blevins said she hopes to move toward bringing in a building for the shelter’s cats, which are agitated by all the nearby barking. “With enough donations and manpower, I think this is something we can do in the next few years,” she said. She said she’s very thankful that the town of Unicoi, the city of Erwin and the county were able to come together to make sure that the shelter had the help of two full-time animal control officers. Another project she said was successful included a winterization project where hay is provided and delivered by the shelter to animals who live outside during the winter months. Hay, Blevins said, is much cheaper and sheds moisture more than other types of cloth bedding, which holds water and drops the temperature of dogs sleeping on it.

In his dispensing practice, local audiologist Dr. Dan Schumaier saw firsthand how moisture was wreaking havoc with his patients’ hearing aids, in some cases even causing them to fail altogether. His patients were frustrated by poor hearing aid performance, and Dr. Schumaier was just as frustrated by the lack of an effective remedy. So he took it upon himself to “do something about it.” Over a period of several years he developed the technology, was awarded several patents, built and tested several prototypes, and finally, in 1997, formed Ear Technology Corporation to manufacture and distribute the Dry & Store hearing aid conditioning system. That can-do attitude has led to an impressive number of patents for Dr. Schumaier, and a successful, international company right here in Johnson City. Ear Technology is now in its 16th year, and Dry & Store is recognized around the world as the pinnacle of care for all types of hearing instruments. But Dr. Schumaier is not one to rest on his laurels. The success of the Dry & Store product line has enabled the company to expand into additional products, with the common hallmark of “innovation with a purpose”. The family of Ear Technology products now includes over a dozen brands within 6 product lines: Dry & Store, Dry Caddy®, TransEar®, Clik® and ClikFit derivatives, EarTech Music, and EarTech TV Audio. The company is known for practical real-world solutions to unmet needs in the hearing healthcare industry. For example, the second product Dr. Schumaier launched was TransEar, a hearing instrument for people with single-sided deafness. TransEar required a sizeable investment in leading edge equipment to maintain the high standards required for a Class II medical device. Another patented product line called Clik capitalizes on the processing power built into today’s tiny hearing aids. ClikEZ can help professionals with the hearing aid fitting process, and Clik provides for greater

patient involvement. It sounds so logical, but actually it’s a revolutionary protocol compared to how it’s been done for years. The ClikFit technology is used in hearing aids manufactured by the company as well as a new type of device called Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs). PSAPs can help people who don’t need a hearing aid but could use a little help in specific listening situations. The company’s expertise in custom shellmaking and audio engineering has translated into yet another opportunity – “in-ear monitors”. These are the devices that you see performers and broadcasters wearing in their ears, providing both high fidelity sound and hearing protection for on-stage musicians. Due to the clarity of sound these devices provide, they’re increasingly popular with music aficionados as well as performers. Though relatively new to the market, EarTech Music is already building a strong reputation for both craftsmanship and creativity. Last year an opportunity presented itself to branch out into assistive devices. EarTech TV Audio transmits high quality digital sound to under-the-chin receivers or neckloop receivers. It has best-in-class digital RF technology, so a hearing-impaired person can adjust his or her own volume and even hear the TV up to 100 feet away. (The company doesn’t guarantee peace in front of the TV, but it‘s a good start.) The headquarters for Ear Technology is just steps away from Dr. Schumaier’s audiology practice here in Johnson City, with a branch office in the Netherlands to serve the European market. Schumaier notes, “we are fortunate to have a knowledgeable and stable staff, and it’s the quality of that staff that has enabled us to grow the business without adding a lot of overhead.” So what’s next for Ear Technology? According to Dr. Schumaier, “Our business plan is pretty simple: identify a need, develop a remedy, and be the best.” Stay tuned. 106 E. Watauga Ave., Johnson City TN


If you Do Not Hear As Well As You Once Did – You Are Not Alone. • 3 in 10 people over age 60 have hearing loss • 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59), or 14.6%, have a hearing problem • 1 in 14 Generation Xers (ages 29-40), or 7.4% already have hearing loss • At lease 1.4 million children (18 or younger) have hearing problems • It is estimated that 3 in 1,000 infants are born with serious to profound hearing loss

The Primary Causes of Hearing Loss are: • Exposure to noise • Medicine • Aging Process • Disease • Head Trauma We invite you to visit our website and take our Five-Minute Hearing Test to determine whether you should have your hearing evaluated.

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Faith in the Future

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Johnson City Press, Page 25E

Science Hill still waiting on field house â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I think it helps morale. We want to build tradition. We want to have, you know, hallways with pictures of the kids hanging up. You want to have stuff like that, too. Just having a nice place you can be proud of â&#x20AC;&#x201D; I think it does mean something, it really does.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;

By TREY WILLIAMS Press Sports Writer

Lifting weights at Science Hill has become a heavy burden, but the push for a new field house has finally gained enough strength to get the project off the ground. In January, city commissioners gave approval for architect Tony Street to design a 12,600-square-foot field house with an estimated cost of $2.1 million. The facility â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to be built behind the end zone stands where Hilltoppers band members sit during football games â&#x20AC;&#x201D; will include coachesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; offices, a film room, equipment room, laundry room, weight room and locker rooms for four teams (varsity, freshman, seventh- and eighth-grade). Football coach Stacy Carter said itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s difficult to quantify the benefits of such a new facility, but the biggest asset will be the weight room. The existing one, in a half-century old, 6,300-square-foot field house, will continue to be utilized by the school. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our weight room, for a school of 2,300, it is really undersized,â&#x20AC;? Carter said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have people coming in at 5 oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;clock in the morning just to get their teams in there, and you have people waiting in line to get in the weight room. We have to have three shifts in the summer to lift everybody. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re just way undersized for the student population and the athletic population that we have. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re gonna keep that weight room and try to make it better. â&#x20AC;Ś Both weight rooms will be accessible to the whole school.â&#x20AC;? Another benefit Carter is quick to mention is the film room. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have anything like it now,â&#x20AC;? Carter said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got to go all over the place to watch film.â&#x20AC;? The steel maroon-and-gold structure, ideally, will be adorned with masonry. Style and substance arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mutually exclusive. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think it helps morale,â&#x20AC;? Carter said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We want to build tradition. We want to have, you know, hallways with pictures of the kids hanging up. You want to have stuff like that, too. Just having a nice place you can be proud of â&#x20AC;&#x201D; I think it does mean something, it really does.â&#x20AC;? The football program wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be the sole beneficiary of the field house. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Overall, it helps our whole athletics program,â&#x20AC;? said Science Hill athletic director Keith Turner. â&#x20AC;&#x153;With all of the great

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Stacy Carter, Science Hill football coach

But major renovations to the school, including a new gymnasium, have made the need for patience a bit more understandable. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We feel like weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got the best school around,â&#x20AC;? Carter said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We feel like weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got the best

gymnasium around and the best football stadium around. We just want a field house to go with it, I guess. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve kind of done it in stages. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve redone the school. â&#x20AC;Ś I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gonna be a topclass facility for our whole school.â&#x20AC;?

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Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press

Science Hillâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kermit Tipton Stadium facilities that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve added, our weight room has been inadequate for a very long time with the number of teams and the size of the teams that we have. It would help everybody, every team. It would help our P.E. curriculum be able to expand.â&#x20AC;? Fundraising has gone slower than anticipated since the field house was first mentioned when Kermit Tipton Stadium was unveiled for the 2010 season, though Turner said significant assistance from the likes of Champion Chevrolet, Blue Lizard Sunscreen and Dr. Ralph Van Brocklin should help get ground broken on the facility by the upcoming football season.

Turner said the Kermit Tipton Scholarship group has met recently about contributing. He anticipates raising another $100,000, at least, as part of a down payment. Johnson City Schools has given $400,000. Revenue from stadium advertising and parking fees will also help fund the project. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got about $70,000 a year that we can pay toward clearing up the note,â&#x20AC;? Turner said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s off of the video board and the reserve parking. â&#x20AC;Ś Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still a work in progress, but weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got a lot of people working to make it happen sooner than later.â&#x20AC;?



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Carter arrived at Science Hill four years ago, the same time as Tipton Stadium. He thought the field house would be erected within a year or two, as did former Hilltoppers Steve Spurrier and Cotty Jones, who each donated $100,000.

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Progress 2014

Page 26E, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Freedom Hall likely home for Bucs By JOE AVENTO Press Sports Writer

After a successful three-game stint at Freedom Hall Civic Center, the East Tennessee State University basketball team is hoping to play a full schedule at the city-owned arena for the 2014-15 season. Discussions between ETSU and the city have been underway for some time, and dates are reportedly being reserved for next season. The Bucs won all three of their games at Freedom Hall this season, beating Samford, Stephen F. Austin and Marshall. The experiment of playing two miles away from campus turned out to be even better than officials had hoped with decent crowds, a “basketball” atmosphere and, of course, three victories. “It was truly a success,” said ETSU Athletic Director Richard Sander. The three games drew an average of 2,730 fans, slightly better than the team’s overall average of around 2,500. The brief and temporary move was popular among the players. “I’ll back anybody up who wants us to play here,” ETSU forward Lester Wilson said. “I like it a lot better. I hope they can make some things happen. I feel like we’ll get a lot more fan attendance if we come here. It’s 10 times more like a basketball arena.” Before the team commits to moving their home games from the Mountain States Health Alliance Center, commonly known as the Mini-Dome, some improvements are expected to be negotiated. “There needs to be a plan to make this a very competitive Division I basketball arena,” Sander said. Among issues to be addressed are lighting, sound system, locker room improvements,

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

The ETSU Bucs took the court during a doubleheader at Freedom Hall on Nov. 22. scoreboards and seating. Sander said the university is looking into the possibility of bringing its overhead scoreboard from the Mini-Dome to Freedom Hall. “We’re not sure about that,” he said. “We are actually doing a study to see if that would work. It’s fairly big. We just don’t know if it’ll fit in there. But we clearly need some type of modern scoreboard and video boards.” ETSU pays rent to use the facility, between $1,500 and $1,800 per game plus expenses for staff and security. “It’s a win for everybody,” Sander said. “It helps them and it’s a lot cheaper than building a $60 million facility. The bones of that building ... if you do

some things, you’d have a really nice facility. “I think the city understands the building, to be competitive, needs to do some things to upgrade the facility. The city manager has been absolutely great in these discussions. He sees that if we play 15, 20 games at Freedom Hall, that’s a major piece of their whole marketing campaign. That’s sizable for a building to have 15 or 20 more events than they usually have.” One factor that could hasten ETSU’s move to Freedom Hall is the Mini-Dome’s roof. It will undergo major repairs in the near future, and they could take up to five months to complete. “The plan is it should be ready for basketball season, but we’re not absolutely sure,” Sander

said. “It might not be. That has made us look seriously at Freedom Hall because there’s a fair possibility the Dome might not be available.” Available or not, the MiniDome might have seen its last season as the Bucs’ full-time home. The three games at Freedom Hall reminded everyone involved that a true basketball arena is close enough to use. “We’re in the process of developing a total strategic plan for all our athletic facilities, trying to figure out what the best usage is for what we do have, and Freedom Hall is part of that,” Sander said. “If that’s where we’re going to go, we’ll make that decision and commit to it.”

City and school officials had a discussion on a fire safety plan for Freedom Hall to bring it up to state code standards so the Bucs could move in for basketball.

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Cyclone stadium plan becomes What is a home? reality after much hand-wringing By DOUGLAS FRITZ Press Sports Writer

It is still a gleam in the eye of folks like Shawn Witten, but a new football stadium for Elizabethton High School is much closer to realization than it was several years ago. The Cyclones could be playing in their new digs as soon as 2015 after a large amount of wrangling between the Elizabethton City Council and the city school board was recently resolved. The school board recently received $5 million from the city, money generated by a half-cent portion of the local option of the sales tax earmarked for school-improvement projects. The fund will be used to work on a new stadium and a new band room at the high school. An idea for improving the football facilities really gained momentum back in 2008 when Howie Long presented Elizabethton’s athletic department with a check for $50,000 as an award for Dallas Cowboys’ standout Jason Witten being named the NFL’s Tough Guy for the 2007 season. “We were going to use that to start a turf fund for (Rider Field at) Brown-Childress Stadium,” said Shawn Witten, Elizabethton’s head football coach. “Then we started talking about what we would do about the stadium. We were going to have a top-notch field, but our stadium was falling apart. “It went from renovating it to (School Superintendent) Mr. (Ed) Alexander saying, ‘Hey, let’s go start a new stadium.’ ” Original plans had the stadium on the back side of the school close to the basketball gym. New baseball and softball fields were also on the drawing board. Today’s plans are to build the stadium at the far end of the current parking lot, close to West Elk Avenue. The proposal is for a football/soccer stadium. Whether the Cyclones will suit up sooner as opposed to later remains to be seen. “You would like to say 2015, but probably more realistically it’s 2016,” Witten said. “The administration and school board have worked tirelessly to get things accomplished. It comes down to needs versus wants, and what we can afford.” Still, Witten said it will be a win for the community when the stadium is completed.

‘Everybody — football, band, soccer, boys and girls club — will benefit. Every day you could have soccer, band, football, P.E. using the field.’ — Shawn Witten, head football coach at Elizabethton High School, on a new football stadium

“Everybody — football, band, soccer, boys and girls club — will benefit,” said Witten. “Every day you could have soccer, band, football, P.E. using the field.” Leaving the confines of Rider Field would be leaving behind a lot of history. But progress is progress. “I think people realize times have changed,” Witten said.

“We will be starting a new tradition in a new facility. “It’s time for a change. Everything has been going on down here, new restaurants and that sort of thing. It’s a great opportunity for a fresh start.” Witten said he knows there’s still a lot of road ahead before the school reaches its destination.

Milligan College Milligan College continues to provide education to the area, expanding the minds of the young and older alike. With over 30 undergraduate degree programs and four masters programs, it’s easy to see why they were ranked in the top 25 colleges nationally by the Washington Monthly. 2013 was a big year for the college as they were named to the President’s National Honor Roll, opened a new housing village, expanded their learning area to Kingsport, and added two new majors of computer science and social work to their already thriving institution. They were also named the eighth best college in the south and one of the “best buys” in the south by U.S. News & World Report. However, this isn’t where they will settle. Founded in 1866, the institution is always looking for ways to improve. The year 2014 will be no different. Milligan will

continue to expand its academic offerings, including new majors in music, business and economics. The classroom isn’t the only place that the college is thriving as their 24 intercollegiate teams continue success both on and off the fields and courts of play. Recently, their women’s tennis team reached its highest ranking in school history at 19th in the nation. They’re also ahead of the game on adding sports, as they’ve become one of the few schools in the NAIA to add a men’s volleyball club team. For more information on the college and what it has to offer, please visit www. P.O. Box 500 Milligan College (423) 461-8756

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Faith in the Future

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Johnson City Press, Page 27E

Auto business has been family affair for 22 years By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

Sue Guinn Legg/Johnson City Press

Auto Electric Auto Care Center is located on West Market Street.

Auto Electric owner Kathy Rogers

Auto Electric Auto Care Center on West Market Street has been doing business in Johnson City for 40 years — 22 of them under the management of the Rogers family. Rob Rogers Jr., the shop’s manger and lead technician, attributes the shop’s longevity to good customer care. “It’s a service business,” he said. “The most important thing we can do is make sure our customers taken care of. If you don’t, you’ll end up out of business eventually.” Rogers’ wife, Kathy, owns the shop and most often can be found at the desk working the phone. Their son, Rob “Robbie” Rogers III, began work at Auto Electric while still high school and now, at age 38, leads its service division. Originally from Maryland, the Rogers family came to the area in the early 1990s. Kathy’s family is from Shady Valley and they feel fortunate to be in business here. “It’s an awesome area,” Rob said. “There are a lot of good organizations in this community to be involved in. If you want to volunteer in Johnson City and you can’t find a place, you’re not looking.” The shop employs seven people, including automotive technicians Eddy Cannon and

‘It’s a service business. The most important thing we can do is make sure our customers taken care of. If you don’t, you’ll end up out of business eventually.’ Rob Rogers Jr. shop manager, lead technician

Drake Walsh. Together with Rob Jr., the three certified technicians have more than 60 years experience and each are ASE certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Auto Electric’s areas of specialty include preventative maintenance, electrical diagnostics repair, alignments, brakes, heat and air service, tire sales and service and more. As a NAPA Auto Care Center, the shop’s quality of service and standards of expertise and integrity are also endorsed and guaranteed by the national NAPA care center network. The shop is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be called at 9260587 or reached by email at For more information about Auto Electric, visit

Rob Rogers Jr., Auto Electric manager and head technician in the garage

Auto Electric customer service advisor Rob Rogers III at the computer/ tool chest in the garage.


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In late January, Johnson City Juvenile Court Judge Sharon Green was beaming when a $1.1 million renovation of the city’s former Seniors Center transformed that facility into a much-needed, roomy new place for the judge, her staff and the people who come to court to stretch out. Kingsport’s Armstrong Construction started major renovations at the 607 E. Myrtle Ave. location in March, tearing out old ceilings, walls, HVAC duct work and other portions of what has beenreshapedintoan11,000-squarefoot structure, nearly doubling the size of the old courtroom down the road at 102 W. Myrtle Ave. Green’s former court was only 13 feet wide, and she said the cramped space caused tensions to rise in a setting meant for resolution. The new courtroom is 35 feet wide. Now there is plenty of seating and two large desks for juveniles, parents, attorneys and probation officers. Green has a new, wide perch at the back of the courtroom, giving her room to view and communicate with all parties. To her right and below her, a witness stand has been constructed. To her left and right are stations for both her clerk and a court reporter, when needed. In addition to being bigger, Green said, the new site is in a better location because of its proximity to local police zones, and it allows for the future expansion of courtroom facilities, including attorney conference rooms and administrative and other offices. “Everybody we’ve dealt with — city officials, the contractor, the fire marshal, the community and the neighborhood — has been very good to us, very supportive,” she said. Court is held five days a week. In a single year, about 1,700 children will come through and 2,775 cases will be handled, Green said.

2013 was a solid year for East Tennessee Rent-Alls, which saw sales increase significantly, hired three new employees, and donated more than $30,000 to local charities. “We saw some growth in the construction industry,” said Vice President Josh Baxter, “and all signs are kind of pointing to the same thing this year, maybe even a little bit better.” Baxter, whose family business has been operating here since 1962, said they’re cautiously optimistic that the construction industry is on the rebound – and they just invested $1.5 million in new rental equipment – including some machines that they didn’t have previously. In addition to construction equipment, East Tennessee Rent-Alls is a Bobcat compact equipment dealer and also rents out party equipment including tents, tables and chairs. It’s a local family business with



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Progress 2014

Page 28E, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 30, 2014

THANKS A BILLION FOR HAVING FAITH IN OUR FUTURE Hank Hayes Kingsport Times-News KINGSPORT – Eastman Chemical Co. Chairman and CEO Jim Rogers said there’s one long-term effect of the company’s “Project Inspire” announcements to invest $1.6 billion and add 300 new jobs at its Kingsport location over the next seven years. “This means our corporate headquarters will be here (in Kingsport) for years and years to come.” Rogers told a room filled with smiling community leaders and elected officials at the Meadow View Marriott. The multi-year project will culminate with Eastman’s 100th anniversary in 2020. Rogers made the announcement with Tennessee Gov. Bill Halsam, who noted the state will provide funding to support a corporate campus expansion, road infrastructure improvements, and a grant to meet advanced manufacturing training needs for the company through the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM) located in downtown Kingsport. “This is a really big deal for the state . . . We know we’re going to be married (to Eastman) for a very, very long time,” Haslam said of the project’s impact. A centerpiece of the project, Rogers noted, will be a “pretty nice office building” in the area of the company’s corporate headquarters and Toy F;. Reid Employee Center.

Rogers called Haslam and other elected officials invited to be on stage with him “friends of Eastman.” Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker were on stage, as were Reps. Phil Roe of Northeast Tennessee’s First Congressional District and Morgan Griffith of Southwest Virginia’s Fightin’ Ninth Congressional District. Alexander called Eastman “part of Tennessee’s landscape” and noted the company’s success translates into better families and better schools. “Eastman has been a focal point of this community.” said Roe. “I can’t see it without Eastman . . . If Eastman succeeds, our communities and schools are better.” Said Griffith: “When other companies are in retreat, you all (at Eastman) are advancing.” Rogers, who is departing as the company’s day-to-day top executive at the start of next year, said the announcement was very emotional for him. “It’s a competitive world out there.” said Rogers, who will be succeeded by Mark J. Costa as CEO effective January 1, 2014. “I just want to tell you it’s not getting any easier. The competition is not resting. They are out there. There’s international competition. Eastman has 44 manufacturing sites

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throughout the world . . . We do have plants in Europe and China and Brazil and North America. We have choices as to where we put our money and where it makes sense to expand.”

property “gives us some flexibility” in planning the project.

Haslam disclosed the state’s investment in the project includes a $15 million “Fas Track” grant measured by job creation, plus a The company, Rogers added, also considered $10 million RCAM investment. its 6,700-employee investment in Kingsport. Smith noted RCAM has been so successful in Eastman’s workforce development “we’re “When you have a collaborative relationship with your government – local, state and beginning to bump up against capacity.” federal – so you can have that public/private Haslam said project talks began with Eastpartnership, this is when you win the comman about five months ago. petition.” Rogers continued. “That’s what you have here in Tennessee ... We are going to be pushing $10 billion in (annual) revenue “We never felt like Eastman was holding a gun to our head. They are not that kind ... We need to be spending this money.” of partner,” Haslam told reporters after the announcement. Haslam also recognized Eastman had a choice where to invest. During the announcement, Rogers also thanked community leaders for their contin“You realize the global scope and reach of this company, and they could be anywhere.” ued support of the company. He recognized that this is the second sizable investment Haslam acknowledged. “When we first started talking about this expansion. I woke at the Kingsport site in recent years and attributed it to Eastman’s symbiotic relationup one night and thought ‘I don’t want to ship with the community. be the governor where Eastman decided to expand somewhere else.’” Eastman serves customers in approximately Eastman has nearly picked out a design firm 100 countries and had 2012 pro forma comfor the office space, said Rogers, which could bined revenues, giving effect to the Solutia acquisition, of approximately $9.1 billion. be up and operational by mid-2015. The company employs approximately 13,500 people around the world. Across Lincoln Street from the main plant site is the old Borden Mill property acquired For more go to by Eastman. Eastman Vice President and General Manager J. Parker Smith said that






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Progress 2014

Page 30E, Johnson City Press

Groundbreaking on Food City may begin soon By NATHAN BAKER Press Staff Writer

A new, larger Food City on Johnson City’s northwest side could bring a few features rarely seen in local supermarkets. K-VA-T Food Stores CEO Steve Smith said the nearly 60,000-squarefoot store in the recently greenlighted Franklin Commons development is expected to be completed by November or December. “That’s the plan right now, but that might be a little ambitious,” Smith said. “The developer is supposed to close on the property sometime in the early spring, and he’s got to get the property in shape dirt-wise. We’ll build a store there as soon as they get the plat ready.” That new store, one of the anchors of the new development at the intersection of State of Franklin Road and Sunset Boulevard, will be one of the largest in the Abingdon, Va.-based company’s chain, making room for a coffee bar, fresh sushi, a 48-seat upscale cafe and an in-store meat smoker. Smith said the smoker, unique to the Johnson City location, would be used to smoke ribs and other cuts of pork and beef to sell in the store. Now that the governor’s ink is on a

‘We’re still evaluating the needs of the nearby community and what we think is the best fit for that location.’ — Steve Smith, K-VA-T Food Stores CEO

law allowing wine sales in retail food stores, the new Food City could have an all-new wine section, the CEO said, expected to be a lucrative product in the well-trafficked corridor near affluent neighborhoods. Those sales would be dependent on Johnson City holding and passing a local referendum allowing wine in stores. The company is still exploring the possibility of selling beer for consumption on-site at the cafe, an option increasingly allowed at some supermarket chains elsewhere in the country. That will depend on the availability of the proper licenses and whether the venture is expected to make money, Smith said. The larger, more modern store will take the place of the existing Food City location less than a mile away, tucked into a shopping center at North State of Franklin and Market Street. Smith said the company’s lease on

the property extends to 2016, and the future of the store is still uncertain. “We don’t have any plans for it yet,” he said. “We’re still evaluating the needs of the nearby community and what we think is the best fit for that location.” A possibility for the site is a Super Dollar Discount Food store, also owned by K-VA-T, which offers less brand variety at less expensive prices. In other areas, Super Dollar stores have moved into the buildings left behind by vacating Food City stores. The company currently operates 10 of the discount grocery stores in its three-state territory, only one of which is in Tennessee. When Franklin Commons is fully developed, Nashville-based builder GBT Realty plans to include 82,000 square feet of retail space, a 7,000-square-foot bank and 18,000 square feet of restaurant floor space, in addition to the 59,500-square-foot supermarket. The expansive development faced opposition from residents of nearby neighborhoods, who were worried that the extra vehicles brought by the new businesses could snarl traffic at the already busy intersection, but the Johnson City Commission gave the project the final go-ahead after receiving the results of a traffic flow study.

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Northeast State continues with planning for downtown campus By NATHAN BAKER Press Staff Writer

Five years after Northeast State Community College’s intention to provide classes in downtown Johnson City was revealed, the project may be coming to fruition. After a few delays related to design work to renovate the 40,000-square-foot Downtown Centre and repurpose the former county courthouse as higher education classrooms has pushed the college’s planned opening from fall 2012 to the spring semester of 2015. NESCC President Janet Gilliam said the school now plans to go ahead and fully renovate the entire first floor of the office and parking complex, instead of dividing the project into two halves. “It’s a huge building,” the president said. “I think everybody understands that it’s a big project.” Gilliam said the designs are now being drawn to divide the ground floor into 17 classrooms and almost as many offices. Once the drawings are completed, the school will put the construction out for bid, and will likely start work at the site later this year. The community college expects to hold classes in some of its higher-demand

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courses at the site, including applied science, art and business. To bring the regional 2-year college to the downtown core, the Johnson City Development Authority purchased the property in late 2011 from Washington County for $1 million. The authority quickly signed a fiveyear lease with Northeast State, touting the arrival of the satellite campus as a major step toward revitalizing the downtown area. But repairs for water intrusion and to correct structural shifting pushed back the timeline for the opening of the new facility and increased the price tag, causing the JCDA to borrow an additional $500,000 on top of the $1 million grant originally dedicated to the project. Gilliam said once the teaching site opens its doors, it expects to host 300 to 500 students. The 350 spaces in the attached parking garage should be adequate to serve up to 1,000 students, she said, including some space for public parking. Local economic development leaders said bringing the hundreds of students associated with the project into downtown Johnson City could help boost existing businesses’ sales and could attract new opportunities.

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JOHNSON CITY, TN 37604 Phone: (423) 610-7171


P.O. Box 8132 • 132 Chapel St. • Gray, TN 37615 Founded in 1968 by Wright and Eula Johnson

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Snyder’s Memorial Gardens

Snyder’s Funeral Home & Crematory

BIRCHETTE MORTUARY, INC. Complete Funeral and Cremation Service Caring for Families Since 1959 Office (423) 926-6013 Mobile (423) 557-2972 Fax (423) 926-5541 John F. Birchette, IV, General Manager email: website:

We’re the only business in the region that offers a funeral home, cemetary and crematory all in one location. 5913 KINGSPORT HWY. • GRAY • 423-477-7911

Faith in the Future

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Johnson City Press, Page 31E

Elizabethton native found success by keeping it small, local By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

Many long-established businesspeople complain about the economic climate over the past decade, but Jarrod Ellis has done quite well. Ellis is the owner/pitmaster of J’s Corner, a popular eatery at the corner of South Lynn Avenue and West F Street in downtown Elizabethton. On a typical workday, there is usually a crowd stretching out the door to place their orders. It is a place where friends greet one another and enjoy talking about the latest local goings-on. It is located on a small corner in a building that once had been an ice cream stand. There is not much parking and not many tables, but the customers keep coming back for the delicious food and friendly service. Ellis is a local boy making good, even if the economy is on a down cycle. He grew up here and attended Elizabethton City Schools. He graduated from

Elizabethton High School and East Tennessee State University. Ellis has always had an interest in business, he said. “I guess at a young age I was interested in earning money,” he said. When he was old enough, he mowed yards and did landscaping. His opportunity came one day when he attended the weekly Carter County Car Club’s weekly car show in downtown Elizabethton. He saw the big crowds and decided some of them just might be hungry. Acting on that thought, Ellis purchased a hot dog stand from a company in Florida in 2004. His hot dogs were an immediate hit with the car show crowd, and for many, it became a weekly tradition to buy a hot dog as they visited to admire the cars. Ellis became a fixture of the car show, and the next year he bought a more substantial stand for $6,000. His food continued to be popular and many customers suggested he should begin catering. Ellis followed their suggestion and found success. His next step of opening his own

restaurant, at 102 S. Lynn Ave., came in 2008. “The lady who owned the property passed away,” Ellis said. He knew it was a good location because he drove by the closed ice cream stand at the west edge of downtown several times a day. He saw the “for sale” sign and thought about it, but “I wasn’t sold on it,” Ellis said. That was when friends and family came forward, encouraging him to take a chance. “So, I went down to the bank and got a loan,” Ellis said. “We made a lot of renovations. My friends and family helped me do those.” When he opened for business, his menu of hot dogs, Philly cheese steaks and barbecue was a hit. Ellis said there are many factors involved in making his restaurant a success. One was growing up in the town and knowing lots of people. J’s Corner has a hometown feel that can’t be duplicated at a chain restaurant. “I don’t think a stranger could come in and just start up a business like this and be successful,” Ellis said. Another factor in success, Ellis said

is “treat your customer right.” Ellis said a third key factor is his employees. “I have great employees. My employees know what needs to be done and I can trust them to do it right when I have to be away on a catering job or other reason. I still have a small worry inside my mind when I am away, but I know they are doing it right.” Elllis said he has no plans to change. “This corner is so small that I can’t do any expansion,” he said. “Bigger is not always better in business.” Part of the charm of J’s Corner is its small size. “People come in and we make them feel comfortable. They have to line up to order, and they are fine with that. They see their friends while they are waiting and talk to them. If we expanded, you would lose that feeling.” So Ellis has seen his business grow in 10 years from a small hot dog stand operating one day a week to a successful restaurant and catering business. But don’t look for a lot of changes over the next 10 years. He plans to keep doing what he is doing and keep having fun.

John Thompson/Johnson City Press

Jarrod Ellis started his business with a hot dog cart. He now owns J’s Corner.

Historical Elizabethton / Carter County Join Us At Crows Nest Antique Mall and CAFE

423-543-1830 “Shop Our Store For Antiques”

and Enjoy a Home Cooked Meal with our Homemade Sour dough Bread made from Scratch! LIVE Blue Grass Music on Saturday Nights and the Antique Car Shows Begin On Saturday, April 5th. Choose from BBQ Sandwiches, Plate Lunches and Fresh Cakes and Pies Cafe Hours: Tuesday-Fri 6am-2pm, Sat. 6am to 6 pm or later Antique Shop Hours: 6am-5pm Tues-Sat.; Closed Sunday & Monday

520 East Elk Avenue, Downtown Elizabethton

Borderview Christian Church 1338 Bristol Highway, Elizabethton TN 37643 turn off Broad Street at McDonalds

“Nobody Leaves Hungry!”

Sunday School 10:00 AM • Morning Worship 10:45AM Sunday Evening 6PM • Wednesday Evening 7PM

423-542-6685 • You Are Invited To Attend:

CROWN of Thorns-CROWN of Glory

“The Day He Wore My Crown” Easter Musical by the Adult Choir Good Friday, April 18th • 7PM and Easter Sunday 10:45 AM Community Easter Egg Hunt Saturday, April 19, 10:30 AM

God & Country Day June 29th 10:45 AM Veterans Recognition

God & Country Night at Joe O’Brien Field Friday, July 4th 6:30PM Fire Works after the Game

Vacation Bible School – To Be Announced Associate Minister – Andrew Norman Interim Minister – Ken Overdorf

BBQ Company – Pork, Chicken, Ribs & Brisket

1941 Milligan Highway, Elizabethton, TN 37643

(423) 547-RIBS • (423) 547-7427 Located on The Tweetsie Trail * All Meats Smoked on Site! Meats Available by the Pound. Catering Available • Fresh Angus Burgers / Try our Potatoes & Onions • Homemade Desserts Indoor and outdoor dining/ Come relax by the stream! WWW.SMOKEHOUSEBBQTN.COM

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Purchase A Large Meal And Receive A FREE Extra Side With This Ad. OFFER EXPIRES 5/3/14

Bowers Auto Sales

1023 Bristol Hwy., Elizabethton Phone 423-543-2890 Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9A.M. – 6P.M. Saturday 9A.M. – 4P.M.

Outside Storage By The Month: • Autos • Boats • Campers • RV’s Use Your Tax Refund For A New Ride Jerry Bowers, owner • Tony Bowers, Owner

“If it’s not on our lot, we’ll find it for you!”

Burgie Drug Store • Tired on waiting on your prescriptions! • Bring Your Prescription to Burgies. • You’ll be on your way home in a flash

Celebrating our 122nd year as Burgie Drugs In Elizabethton

Larry Proffit, Owner

We Appreciate Your Business!

(423) 547-3300 Call It In!

102 South Lynn Avenue, Elizabethton, TN 37643

• Burgers • Hot Dogs • BBQ • Phillys • Salads • Fried Sides • Ice Cream • Soft Serve • Milkshakes • Sundaes • Hickory Smoked Pork By The Pound • BBQ Sauce • Pint •Quart • Gallon “We Specialize In Full Service Catering!

Jarrod Ellis, Owner

Elizabethton Federal Savings Bank opened in 1937 as an independent federally chartered financial institution. Over the years the institution has grown to become one of the strongest and most highly capitalized financial institutions in the nation. Elizabethton Federal is a full service financial institution with competitive loan and savings rates. Stronger than ever, fully committed to our customers and moving forward as we celebrate our 77th year strong and solid!

Stronger than ever, fully committed to our customers and moving forward as we celebrate our 77th year strong and solid!

Progress 2014

Page 32E, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Businesses along Elk Avenue in downtown Elizabethton

Elizabethton  Continued from Page 1E Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

The International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, and inset, Kiran Singh Sirah, executive director

Storytelling Center welcomes Sirah By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

Kiran Singh Sirah began work as executive director of the nonprofit International Storytelling Center organization in Jonesborough in August. He replaced ISC founder Jimmy Neil Smith, who retired from the directorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s role at the end of 2012. Sirah said his hopes are to open a new chapter in the ISCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s development, to propel its annual October festival onto the world stage and to attract a more international audience to

the festival. A native of Scotland, Sirah received a bachelorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in art and design from the University of Wolverhampton, and a postgraduate certificate in education from De Montfort University, both in the United Kingdom. He earned a masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in museum, gallery and heritage studies from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and a masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in folklore studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He previously served as an artist and community curator for St Mungo Museum of

Johnson City  Continued from Page 1E Many of the residential developers point to the burgeoning restaurant and nightlife scene downtown as a sign that the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s core is once again becoming the place to be. The Battery, a gourmet restaurant, opened early in 2012, joining One12 Downtown as a heavy downtown draw. Much fanfare has accompanied the arrival of Tupelo Honey CafĂŠ in the former CC&O Railroad Depot at State of Franklin and Buffalo Street,

slotted to open in May. Miller said the arrival of hundreds of students from Northeast State Community College, which now plans to take up residence in the former Washington County Court complex by the spring semester of 2015, will be a future economic driver for the businesses nearby. He said those potential customers thrown into the city could help create opportunities for businesses to grow their daytime offerings, a counterbalance to the developing night scene.

Jonesborough  Continued from Page 1E along East Main Street from the historic district to Clay Drive. Because the project will require collaboration with several utility providers â&#x20AC;&#x201D; including gas, to be made available for the first time east of downtown â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the streetscape improvements are not expected to begin until next year. The project will be completed in conjunction with a state grantfunded Safe Route to Schools project that, in time, will provide sidewalks along East Main past the McKinney Cultural Arts Center and new Seniors Center to Jonesborough elementary and middle schools. Work on a separate Lost State Scenic Trail project that will connect the Persimmon Ridge Trail to the downtown historic district via a natural trail along Little Limestone Creek to Mill Springs Park is expected to begin in the

summer. The opening of the trail will require the completion of gated rail crossing on Second Avenue to be built by the Norfolk and Southern company, which has yet to give the town a starting date for construction. Projects still further out in Jonesboroughâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s future include: â&#x2013; A new 11E interchange at Boone Street and Boones Creek Road approved by the state Department of Transportation to ease the traffic back-ups at the heavily traveled intersection. â&#x2013;  Development of a new downtown performing arts venue for touring drama and musical productions in the former Jackson Theater building in the downtown historic district. â&#x2013;  A new location for the town garage, which currently backs the new seniors center property. â&#x2013;  An alternate route from Boones Creek Road to communities west of Jonesborough to ease ever-increasing traffic on 11E.


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Religious Life and Art, U.K. With a career focus on promoting peace and understanding through the arts, his work history also includes the development of several awardwinning arts, cultural and human rights programs in the United Kingdom. As a guest writer for the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation in 2012, Sirah developed an online storytelling toolkit titled â&#x20AC;&#x153;Telling Stories that Matter.â&#x20AC;? In October, he led the ISC to established a creative partnership with the foundation through which storytellers of all ilks, including students,

teachers, journalists, poets, photographers and guests at the ISCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual storytelling festival in Jonesborough, are encouraged to use their art to promote peace at the Tutu Foundation website. The ISC board selected Sirah from a field of more than 80 candidates who applied for the directorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s position. Director of Programs Susan Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Connor said the board felt his background and qualifications were most appropriate for the ISC and expressed confidence in his ability to bring new perspective and ideas to the organization.


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the downtown businesses and ring of residential development surrounding downtown. He said many people would like to live near a center where they could get most of their needs accomplished without having to drive in this era of high gas and insurance costs. To meet those needs, Hartman said the streets of the city need to become more bicycle- and pedestrianfriendly. He said bicycle racks would need to be installed downtown. Adding to the encouragement of more pedestrian and bicycle traffic is the completion of the linear pathway along the Doe and Watauga rivers and the Tweetsie Trail along the old East Tennessee and Western

North Carolina Railroad bed. Both those trails would connect downtown with the other section of the city where the planners are trying to encourage commercial and residential growth, the West Elk Avenue area. Plans are to promote a tax increment financing district in that area, with upscale residential and commercial development along the riverfront and upgrades to the former industrial sites. Kitchens said those plans were helped by what he called a miracle by M & R Acquisitions of Birmingham, Ala. That company demolished the old power house building of North American Rayon at no cost to the city, paving the way to commercial redevelopment of that acreage next to the Watauga River.

Faith in the Future - 2014 Progress Edition  

Faith in the Future - 2014 Progress Edition - Johnson City Press