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Treadway VFD recognized by IRS as 501(c)(3) public charity

TREADWAY — Since its founding in 1980, Treadway Volunteer Fire Department has been recognized by the IRS as a Section 501©(4) not- for-profit, tax-exempt organization.

According to Fire Chief Doug Brown, what this meant was that the department had a sales tax exemption, but that donations made to the department by individuals or companies could not be deducted from their taxes as a “charitable” donation.

The department made application with the IRS to have its status changed to a Section 501 ©(3) earlier this year, and on April 30, 2020, received a letter from the IRS designating it as a public charity stating, “We’re pleased to tell you we determined you’re exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501©(3). Donors can deduct contributions they make to you under IRC Section 170. You’re also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under Section 2055, 2106, or 2522.”

This change in the department’s tax status from a not-for-profit to a “public charity” will allow the department to apply for more grants that are only available to such 501©(3) public charity organizations, Brown said.

It will also allow anyone who makes donations to the department to be able to deduct those donations from their taxes, he added.

The only funding sources for the department, currently, are donations and its monthly fish supper. The department is also hoping that donations will increase, now that those donations are tax deductible. All of these changes at the department are in an effort to increase the department’s ability to better serve the citizens they protect, not only in Treadway, but also with the other fire departments they respond with, including Chestnut Ridge, Sneedville, Camps, Kyles Ford/Panther Creek, Vardy/Blackwater, Alanthus Hill, Thorn Hill (Grainger County), Clinch Valley and Lakeview (Hawkins County).

The department would like to thank everyone who has supported them in the past and looks forward to and hopes for continuing support in the future, Chief Brown concluded.

Hancock Schools salute younger graduates

SNEEDVILLE — When Hancock County Schools closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many opportunities to celebrate local students were lost. Several groups of students had worked very hard to reach academic milestones and deserved to be recognized. The school district asked Hancock County Courthouse to allow it to recognize all graduates in the center of the community by hanging banners at the Courthouse. These efforts were made in celebration of all Hancock County Graduates — Preschool, Kindergarten, 5th Grade, 8th Grade, and the Senior Class of 2020. “We wish you the best and encourage you to keep working toward your next milestone. Congratulations Graduates!” a spokesperson said. (PUB. NOTE: Photos of banners honoring High School graduates were published in last week’s edition of The Eagle, and photos of all Seniors can be found in the Friday, May 22, 2020 edition of this newspaper.)

Sheriff's Office will offer forefeited Freightliner for sale on GovDeals.com

SNEEDVILLE — In accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated, 53-11-201, 53-11-45, 40-33-201, and the Tennessee Drug Control Act of 1989, the Hancock Co. Sheriff’s Office will offer for sale on www.govdeals.com, the following vehicle which was forfeited to the HCSO:

• 2002 Freightliner Sprinter 2500 diesel engine, VIN #WD2YD441425317284.

No employee of Hancock County is allowed to bid on the vehicle.

For more information, readers of the Eagle may contact Sheriff Brad Brewer or Tony Collins, assistant, at 423-733-2250.

A “legal” public notice regarding the sale can be found in this issue of The Hancock Co. Eagle, in the May 23/24 weekend edition of The Rogersville Review, online at www.therogersvillereview.com, and on the Tennessee Press Association’s Public Notice website.

Sobriety checkpoints will continue through May 30

SNEEDVILLE — The public is hereby notified that the Hancock Co. Sheriff’s Department will be conducting sobriety checkpoints in accordance with the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

The checkpoints will be conducted between May 16-30, 2020. The locations for the sobriety checkpoints will be as follows:

• Highway 31;

• Highway 66;

• Highway 33;

• Highway 63;

• Highway 70; and,

• Highway 131.

UETHDA awarded $5,000 grant

KINGSPORT – East Tennessee Human Development Agency has been awarded a Neighbor to Neighbor Disaster Relief Fund grant for $5,000 from the East Tennessee Foundation.

The fund provides timely disaster grants to nonprofit organizations in the ETF’s 25-county region and is currently activated for the COVID-19 emergency.

UETHDA will use this grant to purchase personal care items such as cleaning kits, laundry kits, child care kits and personal hygiene kits for teens and adults. These kits will be available for families served by the agency’s Neighborhood Service Centers. The centers are located at the following locations in the coverage area of The Rogersville Review and The Hancock Co. Eagle:

• Hancock County Neighborhood Service Center, 1197 Main Street, Sneedville — (423) 733-2522.

• Hawkins County Neighborhood Service Center, 904 East Main Street, Suite 1, Rogersville — (423) 247-5149.

• Kingsport Neighborhood Service Center, 301 Louis Street, Kingsport, 37660 — (423) 247-5149.

The centers are open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 pm. Families may find help for other needs such as rent or utility bill assistance at these locations as well.

“I just wish we could have gone longer:” Hancock County has first COVID-19 case

Hancock County made national news on May 17 after holding steady for a little over a week as the last county in Tennessee without any COVID-19 cases.

Ironically, just days after the articles in the USA Today and Knox News were published, Hancock County reported its first case on May 19.

Now, all 95 counties in the state have at least one recorded case. No information about the individual patient has been released in order to protect his or her privacy.

“I wish we could have gone longer”

“There was an article that was shared in the USA Today about our county, and within 24 hours, we had our first case,” Hancock County EMA Director David Smith said.

He laughed and added, “I thought, ‘well, we should have just been quiet.’ But, as long as the test takes to get results, the patient may have been tested before the news interview was even done.’”

When asked why he thought Hancock County was able to go so long without any cases, Smith said, “A lot of it is just the fact that we have a lower population and are in a fairly secluded area.”

In fact, according to the United States Census Bureau, only 6,549 people resided within the county in 2018.

As far as the number of people tested, Smith also noted that Hancock County’s number naturally is smaller than that of other counties simply because of their small population.

“I’m glad we went this long without a case—I just wish we could have gone longer,” he said. “I would have liked to be the only county that never had a case.”

Though the Review/Eagle reached out to the Tennessee Department of Health on why Hancock County may have gone so long with no COVID-19 cases, they were not able to give a definitive answer.

“We don’t know scientifically why this is the case, and we’re not able to speculate on that,” Health Council Coordinator Jayne Harper said.

Few coming in; many going out

The county’s rural location and lack of tourists may have contributed to its lack of COVID-19 cases.

“Even in Hamblen County, for example, it might look like a small county, but it’s got two major four-lanes passing through it,” Smith said. “So, how many people pass through there that are not from that area? That’s the same for Hawkins or Knox Counties—people who are not from the area might pass through and stop at restaurants of convenience stores. We don’t have that in Hancock County. It’s pretty much just our local people in the area. I heard someone say once, ‘Nobody finds us by accident. They have to come looking for us.’”

However, Smith noted that, though there are few passers-by visiting Hancock County, many of its citizens work outside of the county. Thus, if these workers were deemed ‘essential’ and required to work during the pandemic, they were still traveling into other counties and back.

“You hear a lot of people say, ‘they’re back in the hills, and nobody ever goes over there,’” Smith said. “That may be true, but a lot of our people go other places. Maybe three quarters of our working population work outside of this county.”

“Everybody tried to follow state recommendations”

“Everybody tried to follow the recommendations from the state,” Smith said. “A lot of businesses limited the number of people who could be in at once, put up screens and the workers wear masks. The restaurants were only serving curbside and drive-thru until that order was lifted. It was pretty much the same with the government offices, too. But we don’t even have many businesses here—there’s only about four restaurants, a couple of dollar stores and one grocery store. Everybody tried to do what they could.”

He also noted that there have been several testing sites set up throughout the county during the pandemic.

“The opportunity to be tested has been there,” he said. “But, a lot of people here think ‘if I’m not feeling sick, I’m not going around people who have had to deal with sick people.’ I have several elderly people in my family, and, during flu season, their doctor will tell them, ‘Don’t come down here to the office if you’re just coming for a checkup. You don’t want to catch something here.’ I think that’s part of the reason our testing numbers are lower than some other counties.”

“The people have always been resilient”

The Review/Eagle was unable to speak with Hancock Co. Mayor Thomas Harrison before press time, but he has said in published reports that he feels the resiliency of Hancock County’s people along with divine blessing has kept the area free of COVID-19 for this long.

“Our people have always been resilient,” Harrison said. “We’ve had to be when you live as rural as we are. Though the climate has changed, snows used to stop school for maybe 30 days. So, people were prepared with their food supplies. They had canned beans and had put up their dried goods and meat. They were able to sustain without having to come to town. We’ve still got enough of our older generation that, through COVID-19, a lot of them were prepared.”

He went on to add that the people of Hancock County “have good, common sense” and are “heavily churched”—other explanations he offered for the lack of COVID-19 up to this point.

“I can’t help but think that the good Lord is a whole lot of the reason for that,” he said in published reports. “The dedication and the love for the Lord that Hancock County has is the reason we’ve had such good luck with COVID-19.”