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Hawkins Republicans hear Gov. Bill Lee at Reagan Day Dinner

ROGERSVILLE — Tennessee’s Governor Bill Lee served as the keynote speaker at the 2019 Reagan Day Dinner, which was presented by the Hawkins Co. Republican Party and the Hawkins Co. Republican Women on Sept. 19, 2019.

The program began with a social hour where guests were able to mingle with local, state and federal officials.

Attendees then enjoyed a meal prepared by Shona House of Faith Baked Cakes and Catering while Former Congressman Bill Jenkins, Tennessee State Representative Gary Hicks, and keynote speaker Governor Lee addressed the crowd.

Talking about the positive“There’s so many good things that are going on in the Tennessee House,” Hicks said as he introduced Lee. “We’ve got new leadership now. Instead of some of the negative things that are going on down there, it’s good to talk about the positive. One of those is the new leadership that we have. We’re going to change the narrative.”

As he began to introduce Lee, he noted that there are several things he feels that everyone will notice about the governor.

“Number one, you’re going to know how important his faith is to him,” Hicks said of Lee. “Number two, you’re going to know how important his family is to him. Then, you’re going to know that he’s a moral man and a principle man. I don’t know if you can get much better than that.”

Humble BeginningsLee began his presentation on a humorous note, as he explained his first visit to Hawkins County.

“Back when we started this thing (the election), we weren’t exactly the front-runner,” he said with a laugh. “We had an RV tour to visit 95 counties in 95 days … When we first came to this county, our first stop was at the Pig & Chick … We pulled up, I looked out the window of the RV, and I said ‘Maria (Lee’s wife), I don’t think there’s anybody here.’”

He went on to explain that a few local representatives did eventually visit his RV stop, but he called the experience “humbling.”

The first nine months as Governor“I use the word ‘honor’ a lot because, to me, it best describes the place that I’ve found myself in,” Lee said. “The Lord gave me great favor to put me here, and I know that … It’s an honor for us because, you carry things around in your heart all your life. You have things in your heart from the way that you’re raised and what’s important to you. To be able to make substantive changes that will impact people’s lives around those things that you carry in your heart all your life — it’s a tremendous honor to be in that place.”

He went on to explain how his passion for rural life has shaped his political platform.

“To become the governor and to have the privilege to sign executive order number one in the Bill Lee administration, which was a statement of impact on rural Tennessee,” he said. “That executive order required all the departments of state government to submit to me a statement of impact of how they affected rural counties in Tennessee—especially the 15 counties that were stressed. And then, to submit to me six months later a strategic plan on how each department would positively our rural communities.”

He hopes that his policies will “make a difference in rural Tennessee.”

Lee advocates for vocational and technical education“The privilege I’ve had to pass legislation around education,” he said. “I ran a heat, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical business all my life. I’ve known that we don’t do vocational and technical and agricultural education in our public schools like we ought to. We left it out starting about 30 years ago, and it diminished in a lot of ways. We need a return to vocational, technical and agricultural education.”

Lee received applause from the crowd in response to this statement.

“To bring forth and sign a major piece of legislation called ‘Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education Act’ where $25 million were focused this year on establishing vocational, technical and agricultural programs in high schools,” he said. “I’ve said it a thousand times: high school needs to look different. And, it’s about to. To be able to do that, after living a life knowing that skilled — and not just skilled trades, but coding, computer science, and all kinds of vocational education — are an important part of the future of Tennessee. That’s been a real honor among other things we’ve done in education.”

He also discussed teaching patriotism to students.

“If we don’t teach our children that we live in the greatest country in the world,” he began. “Liberty, freedom and democracy — what those things mean — and that exceptionalism, American exceptionalism, is something that’s unique to us. If we don’t teach our children those things, they’re not going to just absorb it.”

He referenced his Governor’s Civics Seal legislation, which “rewards schools that have civics and character education.”

Lee opens Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives“I’ve said it a thousand times: my relationship with Christ is the most important thing in my life, and it will never change,” he said. “I’ve also believed that government is not the answer to our greatest challenges in our society, but the people are.”

He went on to define ‘the people’ as “the church, the non-profit communities and community organizations.”

“So, this month we opened in the governor’s office, the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives,” he said. “It’s a new office established in the governor’s office that serves as a liaison between the government and the faith community, the non-profit community and community organizations. Those people who are actually out in the community doing the real work that the government cannot and should not do.”

Lee funds education for prisoners on the cusp of releaseLee went on to explain that his former work in prison ministry influenced some of his new legislation regarding the way that incarcerated people re-enter society.

“I began, through that prison ministry, to understand how important it is that we consider re-entry in a different way, among other things, through our criminal justice reform” he said. “This year, to be the governor and to pass meaningful legislation, particularly meaningful re-entry legislation around expungement fees reduction, community supervision and significant funding — $10 million worth of funding for the education of those that are about to be released.”

He noted that people often question why he would want to pay for a prisoner’s education.

“Because, if they receive a certificate in prison for their level of education attained, they have a 40 percent better chance to not commit a crime when they come back out,” he said. “I’d rather invest in their education than their re-incarceration. We can be tough on crime and smart on crime at the same time.”

In his closing remarks, Lee noted that, “the work that we have been able to do in the first nine months — we’ve only just begun.”

“I’m so encouraged about where we’re headed,” he said.

CATS, CATS AND MORE CATS: Residents fume over felines running loose

CHURCH HILL — Three residents presented the Church Hill BMA with an unusual problem at the Sept. 17 BMA meeting.

“We’re concerned about cats — a lot of cats,” said one resident.

She explained that there has been an ongoing problem with a neighbor’s large number of cats running loose throughout the neighborhood.

“They’ve been down there and cleaned up the place, but the cats come over and are in our garage, they’re on our cars, they’re on our boats,” she said. “You wouldn’t believe. This has been going on for about three or four years, and we can’t get nothing done.”

“She (the owner of the cats) has four litters over there right now,” the second resident added. “One is a brand-new litter — not much more than a week old. Yesterday, I had one of them on my front porch that could barely open its eyes because they were so matted yellow. Their fur is just raunchy looking.”

For the second resident, cats were not her only concern.

“They feed their cats the same mush that they feed their dogs,” she said of her neighbors. “They have nine dogs in the house. They have three dogs in the back yard next to my house that bark constantly — day and night … I look at their cats running around, and I look at their dogs breeding with their dogs. I saw one today trying. One of the dogs that’s tied up tried to breed one of the dogs running loose.”

She went on to explain that the dogs, too, run loose in the neighborhood.

“They go and poop anywhere they want,” she said angrily. “Pee anywhere they want.”

“I went and bought me a new swing so I’d have a place to sit outside,” said the third resident, who identified himself as the husband of the first resident. “I gave $250 for that swing. I went out there the other morning and there sat a big pile with a red ribbon in it! I can show you on the camera!”

“We’re not making this up!” the first resident said as she rose to show the photo on her cell phone to the Mosley and the aldermen.

City workers take cats to animal shelter“Well, in all fairness, in the past we took them to the animal shelter,” Mayor Dennis Deal responded.

“I’d like to know who gave you the authority to just do away with picking the cats up in the middle of the year,” the third resident angrily asked Deal.

“What I’ve got to do is work a contract out with the animal shelter to have unlimited cats,” Deal explained. “I forget the numbers, but I remember one year, most of our budget (for animal control) was spent at you all’s house. The year we had the high numbers and the high dollars, we would take them (the cats) down there (to the animal shelter) and they (the neighbors) would go back and get them. You can’t expect the city to throw their money away like that.”

Deal explained that he then told the animal shelter employees that, if the negligent owner of the cats came to the shelter expecting to retrieve the cats, the Church Hill Chief of Police, Chad Mosley must be notified.

“He (Mosley) will release it, and then there’s a fee, right?” Deal asked Mosley at the meeting.

“Right,” Mosley replied. “They’re cited into court.”

“But what we were doing was not working,” Deal added. “We’re still sitting here talking about cats now. So, we’re trying a different avenue. That’s why these people have to come to court. We could pick up 500 cats, but it doesn’t work. Where it works is in the courtroom. You’ve got to get them in court to stop this.”

Letting the courts handle the problem“I know it’s annoying, but you have to let the court process go through and do its thing,” Deal explained.

“The lady they’re talking about — she has other family members who live there, but, every time we go, she claims responsibly for the cats — has a court date next week,” Mosley said. “She has been cited into court as recently as June for three violations: she was cited in for ‘animals running at large,’ ‘animals not vaccinated’, and I think there was one of the animals that was in heat, and it wasn’t confined.”

He went on to say that, the last time he visited the house, he saw “seven or eight adult cats and a couple of litters” and explained that members of the police department have been personally working with the owner of the cats to come up with a solution.

“On the nuisance dog, all you have to do is pick up the phone and call,” Mosley explained to the residents. “You as a private citizen can come in and cite somebody. You fill out the paperwork, and we’ll serve it on them.”

Deal and Mosley assured the residents that a member of the police department would visit the residents’ home the following day to continue discussing the problem and work towards a solution.

Annual Soul Food Dinner menu announced

ROGERSVILLE – With beef brisket, pinto beans and fixings, cornbread, buttered potatoes, collard greens, corn, desserts and more on the menu, it must be time for the 16th Annual Soul Food Dinner at Heritage Days, presented by Price Public Community Center and American Legion Auxiliary 231.

The delicious home-cooked meal is always a perennial favorite at the event, and will again this year be held at the Price Public Community Center’s main community room.

Tickets for the Friday, Oct. 11 event are $30 per person (children age 10 and under eat free but must be accompanied by a ticket-holding adult) and MUST be purchased in advance by calling 423-921-388 or by going by the Price Public Center in Rogersville.

Live entertainment will be provided and the Museum will be open for tours.

Photos by Jim Beller 

Cherokee’s Austin Kirkpatrick finishes strong to overtake the lead and capture the Bristol Cross as his mom/coach cheers him on in the background.

Fourth annual American Indian Gathering this Saturday at Amis Mill

AMIS COMMUNITY — The fourth annual American Indian Gathering is set to take place at the Thomas Amis Historic Site this Saturday, Oct. 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public, with parking costing $5 per vehicle. Donations for the preservation of the Amis Mill Dam are also gratefully received.

This year’s program will feature drumming, dancing, storytelling and games for children.

“It’s getting bigger every year,” Stonewolf said of the event, in which he has participated since its beginning in 2016.

“Stonewolf puts the whole thing on,” said Jake Jacobs, who is the owner and operator of the Thomas Amis Historic Site. “It’s put on by the Indians. We just tell them, ‘Here, this was your land before it was ours. You’re welcome to use it that day. Make yourself at home.’”

A full-size teepee will be set up on the property, and kids will be able to use paint to leave handprints on this teepee. They will also learn to use blow guns, play one of the large powwow drums and have their faces painted.

Several different American Indian tribes will be represented at the gathering, with Stonewolf being of Cherokee descent, and at least one of the vendor booths will be operated by a group of Sioux selling handmade crafts.

A new event this year will feature a live Eagle and a presentation by the American Eagle Foundation whose mission, as their website reads, is to “care for and protect the USA’s living symbol of freedom, the Bald Eagle, and other birds of prey through the four pillars of education, re-population, conservation and rehabilitation.”

The foundation is actually headquartered in Pigeon Forge and partners with Dollywood to house the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary at the theme park, where visitors can see the eagles and watch educational presentations.

Preserving American Indian Culture

Stonewolf is dedicated to educating the public and preserving American Indian culture, as he often travels around Eastern Tennessee to participate in events such as this. He even gave a presentation at Hawkins Elementary School last year.

“The kids had thousands of questions,” he said with a laugh. “It turned out really well.”

This is very similar to the current owners of the Thomas Amis Historic Site, Jake and Wendy Jacobs, who have been outspoken promoters of the site’s history since the day they acquired it.

And there certainly is a lot of history held within the Thomas Amis Historic Site.

“My fifth great-grandfather, Dragging Canoe, stood there on that land in the 1700’s,” said Stonewolf. “He killed David Crockett, Sr. and his wife right there on the Amis Mill property in 1777. He was a pretty bad guy, and he had reason to be because of all the land that was being taken and everything. He refused to give it up, and he raided all the villages all up and down the Holston River all the way to Chattanooga.”

Thomas Amis later acquired from Davy Crockett’s uncle the same land where David Crockett, Sr. had built a cabin. In 1780, Amis began building a stone house on the land, which is currently lived in by Jake and Wendy Jacobs, as Wendy is actually a direct descendent of Thomas Amis.

“Thomas Amis and Dragging Canoe were friends,” Stonewolf said. “He (Amis) had a trading post, and he traded with the Indians right there on that farm.”

These two families have truly come full circle, as the descendants of both Dragging Canoe and Thomas Amis will stand on Saturday in the exact same spot as their forefathers.

Amis Mill Eatery temporarily closed

Though the American Indian Gathering will still go on, the Amis Mill Eatery will, unfortunately, still be temporarily closed on the day of the event.

“I had leased the operation out a little over a year ago, and they (those in the lease) were running the actual operation of the restaurant,” Jacobs said. “Well, they just walked out on me about three weeks ago. So, they defaulted and vacated their lease.”

Jacobs explained that he “foolishly” thought about taking over the restaurant operation again, as he and his wife had for eight years.

“Not that we’re too old to do this, but we’re too old to want to do this anymore,” he explained. “We also have a brand-new grandbaby in South Carolina. It’s a wonderful operation, we ran it and loved running it for eight years, loved the people and had a wonderful clientele. Their responses to this bump in the road have been phenomenal. I’m going to ask you, just as I am asking all of them, to pray that God will send me somebody who will love this place like we love it.”

Thus, Jacobs does plan to re-open the eatery as soon as he can find someone willing to manage it.

All hope of enjoying some good food at the Indian Gathering is not lost, though, as Jacobs explained that there will be authentic American Indian-style food such as Indian frybread at the event.

The other aspects of the Thomas Amis Historic Site such as the historic dam and park, the pavilion, the new Visitor’s Center and the Creekside Cabin Rentals are still operating daily and open to the public.

For more information on the American Indian Gathering, visit http://www.amismill.com/events.html or call Stonewolf at (423)-736-7596 or Dancing Eagle at (865)-278-4394.

Gearing up for Heritage Days: Scarecrow Decorating Contest

ROGERSVILLE — With the temperatures getting cooler and the trees beginning to change colors, fall is definitely in the air. To celebrate the change of the year, The Rogersville Heritage Association partners with The Loft and Givens Nelson Realty to bring the 2019 Scarecrow Decorating Contest to the historic streets of downtown Rogersville, helping to kick-off the 40th annual Heritage Days on October 11-13.

Scarecrows must be delivered and placed on display at ‘Scarecrow Lane’ on Oct. 9, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information or to register, contact Melissa Nelson at director@rogersvilleheritage.org Entry forms are available at Givens Nelson Realty and the Rogersville Heritage Association. All entry forms must be returned by October 5.

Rules and guidelines for the contest:Registration: Entry forms must be returned by Oct. 5. Pre-registration is required.

Entry fee: FREE! There is NO cost to enter the contest.

Eligibility: This contest is open to all non-profit groups including schools, service and community groups, and youth organizations, as well as individuals. Businesses are encouraged to display an entry but will not be eligible for cash prizes.

Themes: Scarecrows may be traditional, whimsical, humorous, mischievous, fantasy, celebrity or loveable. Bloody or violent themes will not be allowed, nor advertising, political or religious statements. Entrants are reminded that this is a family event and that the Rogersville Heritage Association reserves the right to deny any entry.

Construction: Scarecrows must be durable and able to stand up to sun, wind and rain showers as they will be displayed from Oct. 11-31. All decorations must be firmly attached to your scarecrow. Feel free to bring extra props like straw bales, corn stalks, etc. The scarecrow must not be taller than 7 feet or smaller than 4 feet. If you choose to bring fresh vegetables or fruits (like pumpkins) they must be whole and not punctured or carved to ensure they last the duration of the contest. We reserve the right to remove any entries that do not maintain their condition to be displayed. Electricity will not be provided.

Identifying Signs: As part of your display be sure to make a sign with the name of your entry and your school, group, business, or service club name. Your sign should be no larger than 11 x 17 inches. Again, no advertising, political or religious statements will be allowed.

Judging: All entries will be voted and winners announced Oct. 27.

Set-up: Scarecrows must be delivered and placed on display on Oct. 9, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. No exceptions.

Removal: Scarecrows must be removed Nov. 1.

Awards: All awards will be by check to the winning organizations and schools as follows: 1st Place will receive $100, 2nd Place will receive $75 and People’s Choice will receive $50.

Ownership: All entries become the property of the Rogersville Heritage Association.

Additional information will be listed in the registration form.