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Dr. Armstrong one of two Outstanding Tennessee Physicians for 2019

NASHVILLE – A Rogersville native is one of two doctors honored by the Tennessee Medical Association with its 2019 Outstanding Physician Awards.

The awards were presented on May 18, 2019, during the annual meeting of TMA’s House of Delegates, to Dr. Joseph Armstrong, MD, of Bristol and Dr. Bob Vegors, MD, of Jackson.

Dr. Armstrong is the oldest son of the late Rhea and Madeline Armstrong who owned and operated Rod Armstrong and Co., Rogersville’s leading clothing store, for many years.

He graduated from Rogersville Elementary, and in 1971 from Rogersville High School where he remembers such outstanding educators as Wanda Morrell, Ruth Romans and Billy Robinette.

He graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1974 where he was named to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1978, he received a doctorate of medicine from the University of Tennessee in Memphis, where he was appointed to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. He then returned to UNC at Chapel Hill where he did ophthalmology training.

Although he raised his family and has practiced ophthalmology in Bristol since 1983, Dr. Armstrong said he “still calls Rogersville home.”

He is also a direct descendant of his namesake, Joseph Rogers, the founder of Rogersville.

The Outstanding Physician Award is presented to TMA member physicians who, during the course of their illustrious careers, have made a distinctive mark on the profession of medicine, their colleagues and their communities. It is TMA’s lifetime achievement award, and is presented each year at the Annual Meeting of TMA’s House of Delegates.

Dr. Armstrong, the TMA said, has provided compassionate ophthalmic care to people in upper East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia for 35 years.

He founded Mountain Empire Eye Physicians as well as the first ophthalmic surgery center in the region, to bring ophthalmic care to an underserved area of Appalachia.

Dr. Armstrong has served his local community with kindness and generosity including donating free or reduced-fee services to more than 3,500 children throughout the past 20 years. He has also provided free care to the working uninsured of Bristol through Healing Hands.

Dr. Armstrong has a heart for global missions in both teaching and providing ophthalmic services to people in developing nations.

Boyfriend busted for assault, breaking woman's car windows with cycle helmet

CHURCH HILL — A Hawkins County man was jailed Sat., June 8, after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend and broke all of the windows out of her car with a motorcycle helmet.

Hawkins Co. Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Pease responded shortly after 6 p.m. on that date to a location in the 700 block of Webster Valley Road to investigate an assault complaint.

On arrival, Pease said, he came in contact with Michael Wayne Gibson, 28, of Church Hill, and a female who were standing in the front yard of the residence.

The woman, the deputy noted in his report, was crying and the “irate” Gibson had “blood on his right hand”.

According to the woman’s statement, she and Gibson were standing “in the middle of the road on Webster Valley and Mr. Gibson got irate and tried to strike her with a helmet, striking the rear glass (of her vehicle) busting the window”.

When the woman attempted to get away from Gibson, he allegedly grabbed her by the head and hair, “striking her in the face on the left side and bit her on the left arm,” the report continues.

“I observed what appeared to be a bite mark on the left arm and redness and blood on the left side of (the woman’s) face from the blood on Mr. Gibson’s hand,” Pease wrote.

The woman was able to get away and fled to another location on Webster Valley where Gibson “showed up” and “busted the other windows out of the vehicle with the motorcycle helmet which was located in the back seat of the vehicle”.

Pease said he asked Gibson why he was so irate, “and he stated that ‘she shouldn’t be raising hell on me’”.

Gibson was arrested on charges of aggravated domestic assault and vandalism over $1,000 and transported to the Hawkins Co. Jail for booking.

According to the report, all windows were broken out of the woman’s vehicle and a dent was made in the driver’s side door.

Elijah Carmack and Zach Voiles show off some of their day’s work.

Hawkins GOP groups hosting picnic at Laurel Run Park

The Hawkins Co. Republican Woman and Hawkins Co. Republican Party are hosting a summer picnic on Thursday, June 20 at Laurel Run Park (Pavillion #10) in Church Hill, from 6-8 p.m.

Drinks will be provided. Bring a dish and a lawn chair.

Hawkins firefighter earns national distinction

ROGERSVILLE — A Hawkins County firefighter has earned the honorific distinction of MIFireE, a title awarded by the Institution of Fire Engineers after meeting stringent admission requirements and criteria, including academic, professional and fire-service qualifications.

Dustin Housewright, a lifelong Hawkins County resident, served as Fire Chief for the Town of Surgoinsville from 2009-2015. He is currently the chairman of the Hawkins Co. Local Emergency Planning Committee, and, in his full-time job, serves as a Captain/Paramedic at Eastman’s Fire Department.

Membership into the IFE confers the right to use the designation of MIFireE.

To meet membership requirements, a rigorous review of the applicant’s educational background is conducted, and only once one has passed this review can they become an IFE member.

The Institution’s objective is to promote, encourage and improve the science and practice of fire engineering including fire prevention and extinction.

The letters, MIFireE, indicate that a person has met the educational standards and are known as a member in good standing of the IFE. Linking educational requirements and experience to membership helps promote professionalism in the field.

Membership in the IFE cannot be purchased, it must be earned; one cannot just pay dues and join.

For the uninitiated, the IFE is a global non-profit organization devoted to fire protection issues, with branches in 23 countries. It was founded in 1918, and the US branch was established in 1996.

The membership roster for the IFE is a virtual “who’s who”, filled with knowledge and potential horsepower the organization can draw upon whenever needed. There is a great deal of experience in the IFE’s ranks, and a great deal of that shared knowledge to be drawn upon.

Housewright holds an Associates in Public Safety and Bachelors in Fire Science Administration degrees and is currently working on his Masters.

“I also do part-time work including safety consulting and instructing fire, rescue and medical courses,” he said.

In addition, he holds several certifications in various fire service areas, including Fire Officer IV (becoming the 47th person in Tennessee to obtain this certification), Fire Instructor II, Safety Officer and a Paramedic Instructor/Coordinator.

“What impresses me most about the IFE is the professional approach it takes, something rarely seen in many other organizations,” he added. “It promotes professionalism in our field, not just by the activities it hosts, but by the educational requirements necessary to be a member. It promotes best practices in fire protection by sharing information designed to be challenged in an environment of evidence-based decision making. In addition, the MIFireE designation is closely aligned with the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation. The IFE actually has a reciprocity agreement in place with the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) for those individuals who earn the CFO designation to obtain the MIFireE designation through a reciprocity application.”

Housewright said, “This journey would not have been possible without the continued support from my family”.

In his spare time, he enjoys farming, spending time with his son and traveling.

Walters State will offer fall night classes at Cherokee High

ROGERSVILLE — Walters State Community College will offer popular general election courses at Cherokee High School in Hawkins County during fall semester.

The following classes will be offered on the night indicated: Early humanities (Monday), Fundamentals of Communication (offered on both Monday and Wednesday), Intro to Psychology (Tuesday), Introductory Statistics (Wednesday) and The College Experience (Thursday).

These classes fulfill general education requirements for most majors. Most classes meet from 6-9:05 p.m. and each equals three college credit hours. These classes may be taken by high school students for dual enrollment and are also convenient options for working adults who want to return to college.

“These classes enable many students in Hawkins County to complete a large portion of their degree requirements without driving to a campus in another county,” said Brian O’Dell, high school programs specialist at the college.

For more information, contact O’Dell at 423-585-6989 or

The Fall semester starts Aug. 26.