Family still searching for lost Chihuahua

“Spudz” was last seen on Route 34.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

County takes another look at autopsy budget


Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


H&T Correspondent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civitan presents check for dog park


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New StoryTown Brigade members receive certification

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New historical marker designates home’s importance

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

German company opts for local industrial park

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


Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOE struggles with budget revisions for upcoming year


Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boating season kicks off this Memorial Day Weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boat Operation Basics:

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

School daze: Jonesborough project voted down by county


Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

For commissioners, discussions of pennies from the 2016 tax increase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BrightRidge completes phase one of expanded services

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


Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Town brings in Pinnacle Awards


Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

Local winners included:

Advertising and Promotions, Brochure or Guide:

Jonesborough Visitors Guide

Advertising and Promotions, Rack Card:

Jonesborough Yarn Exchange Season Rack Card

Advertising and Promotions, Long Video:

Jonesborough Yarn Ex

BrightRidge ‘flips the switch’ on Telford solar farm

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heritage Fair to showcase Washington County’s history


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

School board member arrested on new charge

David Hammond has been a school board member since 2015.


Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gray, Asbury find lead in water


Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

County approves athletic project, industrial park plan

Commissioner Robbie Tester discusses payment in lieu of taxes plans in the county.


Staff Writer

The Washington County Commission was thinking of new ballfields and a potential new manufacturer when the group passed two motions approving plans at the Boones Creek athletic facility site and the Washington County Industrial Park.

The commission passed a resolution to use $150,000 for utility infrastructure construction at the Boones Creek athletic facility site in a 12-1-1 vote. Commissioner Danny Edens was opposed, Robbie Tester abstained from the vote and Mike Ford was absent.

“It was recommended we take some action on this because the children starting school in August,” Commissioner Phil Carriger, the chairman of the Commerce, Industry and Agriculture Committee, said. “Right now it’s nothing but red clay out there. We’d love to have some fields for them and some grass in.”

Commissioners Larry England and Jodi Jones, who are also part of the CIA Committee, added that doing the electrical work and utilizing the equipment while it is already on the site would be part of the preliminary plan.

The budget for the project is set at $3.2 million, which Carriger said would not be exceeded. Meanwhile, Edens asked that if the all money for the athletic facilities were not used, could those funds go towards the Jonesborough School project, which has been on hold for the past two years.

“They have a new school. I’m not against them having these fields, but our other schools don’t have this,” Edens said. “Jonesborough is probably the neediest school of all of them and we are struggling to figure out where we’re going to get the money, do we have the money, if we have the money where is the money. But we are building a sports complex at Boones Creek. I don’t know how we do that.”

Commissioner Jim Wheeler added that he thought the CIA Committee needed to consider the athletic facilities plan in conjunction with the other schools along with the Health, Education and Welfare Committee that has dealt with the Jonesborough School project over the past two years.

While the athletic facilities plan is a step closer to phase one, the county also took the next step to potentially welcoming a new company to the industrial park.

In a 10-4 vote, the commission passed the resolution approving the land grant to Washington County’s Industrial Development Board. The plan also delegates authority to the IDB to negotiate and accept the payment in lieu of taxes plan for the potential company.

The company is a German manufacturer that builds fans, motors and other heating ventilation and air conditioning components. However, the unnamed company is considering another space in Tennessee and another in Texas in addition to the potential site in Washington County. Should the company choose Washington County, 179 new jobs will be created along with a $37.4 million capital investment over a five-year period.

“The $1.7 million the county invested (in the industrial park) back in 2015 was to get us to this point,” said Alicia Summers, the vice president of business development for the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership. “We’re here. Now we just need to cross the finish line.”

The plan also includes a tax abatement at 100 percent during the first three years for the company, but the company would still pay the education portion, bringing in around $59,000 to the school system’s budget.

“In year one we are gaining around $59,000 for our schools that we don’t get at the moment,” Commissioner Freddie Malone said. “And that only increases each year in the future where in year four they start paying the real estate taxes and it incrementally increases following that period.”

However, Tester shared a few concerns regarding PILOT plans, adding that he felt companies that accept “these short-term incentives” seem to be more likely to leave.

“We are ultimately responsible to our constituents, not any company’s bottom line,” Tester said.

“These deals end up putting counties, cities, states in a never-ending bidding war. Taxpayers bare the cost and the companies benefit. Are these deals really the best we can do for our constituents?”

For other commissioners, offering the PILOT plan puts the county in the “game” for potential new companies.

“It is a game that is played by other communities,” England said. “And this company has visited our community in several instances just to go out among our people and our restaurants and our people. They’re doing their due diligence. It’s not just about the money. If we don’t compete in this game, the county does lose and they’ll go elsewhere.”

Company eyes Washington County Industrial Park

The company is considering this parcel in Washington County.


Staff Writer

A new company could soon be coming to Washington County’s Industrial Park.

Alicia Summers, the vice president of business development for the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership, presented information to the county’s budget committee on the German manufacturing company that is considering a 67-acre plot at Washington county’s industrial park.

The committee passed the plan, which includes a purchasing price of $1.2 million for the 30-acre section. Should the company select Tennessee’s oldest county, they’re projected to create 179 new jobs over five years in Washington County. However, the HVAC manufacturing company is deciding between the location in Washington County, another in Tennessee and one in Texas.

“I am optimistic,” Summers told the committee. “One of the reasons why is originally, they were looking just for a site in an industrial park. They felt like they would need some almost immediate space to do some manufacturing. One of the advantages was that not only did we have the site we were looking for, but we had five buildings to show them as well. I think that kind of put us a little ahead of the other sites in the other communities.”

The company is considering the 67-acre section because the company is expressed interested in expanding in the future, Summers said. She also added that the industrial park’s site certification has been a draw for potential companies.

“What it means when you have a certified site is that all of the due diligence work has been completed on the site,” Summers said. “To a consultant or a company, that eliminates risk. That saves them both time and money.”

Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy added that he felt the company seemed community-minded.

“When they came in, they were interested in the site and that’s important. But they checked that off the list pretty quick and almost the balance of the intention was turned to workforce first and community second,” Grandy said. “The last time we knew they were here, they wanted to be left alone to be in the community for a day and a half to go to restaurants, shop a little, talk to people. One of the things that impressed me a lot with those folks so far is they seem to be community minded.”

Part of the focus on the community is reflected in the tax agreement, Grandy said; there would be a tax abatement at 100 percent during the first three years for the company, but the company would still pay the education part, putting $59,000 towards Washington County’s schools each year.

“When we presented this reduction of their tax abatement to go to our schools, they were immediately accepting of that understanding that education is important and education builds your workforce,” Grandy said. “So if we get these people here, they appear to be very community minded and should be great citizens.”

The county commission will vote on the plan at its next regularly scheduled meeting set for Monday, April 22, at 6 p.m. at the George Jaynes Justice Center, 108 W Jackson Blvd., Jonesborough.

School system reacts to lead found in water




West View (left) and Boones Creek Elementary (right) have been found to have excess amounts of lead.


Staff Writer

The Washington County School System removed a total of three water fountains from two schools on Thursday after discovering the fountains contained an amount of lead in the water that exceeded the state’s limit.

Boones Creek Elementary School removed two fountains while West View Elementary School removed one following water testing results from Wingfield Environmental showing that the fountains contained too much lead according to state regulations.

The state law says if test results exceed 15 parts per billion but is less than 20 parts per billion, the school has to conduct lead level tests on an annual basis until a test confirms that the level is less than 15 parts per billion. At or above 20 parts per billion, the school system must remove the drinking source. One fountain at Boones Creek contained 17. 1 parts per billion, the other had 24.6 and West View’s lone contaminated fountain contained 34.2.

“First of all, our initial response was notification,” Washington County Director of Schools Bill Flanary told the Herald & Tribune. “We wrote a letter, composed it, signed it, got it out to principals and got it into kids’ hands. We also used various digital means, electronic means.”

If the limit for the lead testing is reached or exceeded, the school system must notify the commissioner of environment and conservation, the commissioner of health, the local department of health, the local governing body, and the department of education within 24 hours. The parents and guardians of students enrolled at the school must be notified within five business days of the test result.

To alleviate the problem, Flanary said the school system will have to locate the source of the contamination.

“So where did it come from? Was it right there where the cut off is? Is it further back in the wall?” Flanary said. “Is it further back in the main line? Is it underneath the floor? We have to continue to dig until we find the source. We’re going to start looking for the point source of the contamination. If it’s under the floor and we have to bust up the floor, we just have to do it.”

In the meantime, the schools are taking the necessary precautions.

Flanary said, in addition to removing the drinking fountains, the school system has received bottled water from Pepsi and coolers and ice from Food City. He also said a local Boones Creek church made donations to Boones Creek as well.

“Our business partners and our neighborhood friends have really helped out. So we’re out in front of it,” Flanary said. “The tests pointed out specific sources of lead contamination, although I can see how a child or an adult would not want to drink the water throughout the school. That’s why we kind of went beyond in bringing in bottled water.”

Apart from drinking, the school system had another concern related to the water results at Boones Creek Elementary; because the school also serves as a prep kitchen for other schools in the school system, the menu has changed to exclude any items that would require water in order to be prepared.

“(Boones Creek Elementary) sends food out to other schools — that’s a problem because we use water to cook,” Flanary said. “So we rearranged their menus to use no added water. We are not using that water to cook with anymore.”

Flanary clarified that the water at the two schools would not be cut off.

As for the other Washington County Schools, Jonesborough Elementary, Sulphur Springs, Lamar, South Central, Boones Creek Middle, Jonesborough Middle, the central office and David Crockett High School has have already been tested and received results within the state’s regulations.

Each school built before 1998 must be tested, meaning Grandview and Ridgeview are the only schools that will not undergo any water testing. Starting in 2019, all Tennessee school systems must test each drinking fountain in its older schools within two years.

“We have two years to get it done, but we’re just not going to drag our feet,” Flanary said. “We’d like to get it done the first six months the law is in effect and get it done. We are four months in and we’ve found three water fountains (above the state’s limits for lead). So I don’t know if that’s good, but it could have been more.”

Washington County Republican Party holds reorganization meeting

Turney Williams


On Saturday, April 6, the Washington County Republican Party held its biennial reorganization at the Jonesborough Senior Center, with more than 300 people participating in support of the party.

According to many long-time members, event participation was by far the largest in recent memory. Delegates were elected from 30 precincts, giving them an opportunity to cast a vote for party officers.

The Washington County Republican Party wanted to thank the credentialing committee co-chairs Steve Darden and Freddie Malone, along with committee members George Heaton, Kent Harris, and Wayne Sowder for their work on informing members on reorganization process and procedures as well as overseeing the election of officers.

Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden was also present to observe the proceedings, providing clarification of state party bylaws and to ensure a smooth election process.

Each position within the party hierarchy was voted upon, and the Washington County GOP applauded each person who stood for leadership election as well as those members who took time out of their busy lives to help ensure the party continues to be strong in Washington County.

Elected to two-years terms at the meeting were Dr. Turney Williams, who starts his second term as party chairman. Also elected were: First Vice-Chair Carolyn Ferguson, Second Vice-Chair Brenda Jackson, Third Vice-Chair Kevin Cole, Secretary Liz Keesee, Treasurer Joe Hodges and Assistant Treasurer Frank Hawkins.

Next up for the Washington County Republican Party is the June 14 Lincoln Day Dinner featuring keynote speaker Liz Cheney. The event will be held at the Millennium Centre. Visit for more information or email