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Mount Carmel has new Mayor, Vice Mayor and two new Aldermen; “We’re in unprecedented times,” attorney says

As City Attorney John Pevy told the Mount Carmel Board of Aldermen at Thursday’s meeting, the town is experiencing unprecedented times.

After the town’s Mayor Chris Jones and Alderman Carl Wolfe resigned from their positions a little over two weeks ago, the BMA appointed a new Mayor, Vice Mayor and two new aldermen.

Former Vice Mayor Jennifer Williams was appointed Mayor, Alderman Pat Stilwell was appointed Vice Mayor, and Garret White and Teresa Mauk were appointed as Aldermen.

As the Review previously reported, Jones and Wolfe resigned after Pevy filed a writ of ouster against them in Hawkins Co. Circuit Court. This petition alleged that the two had conspired to draft a bogus eviction notice in an attempt to evict Jones’ girlfriend from the house the pair were renting from Wolfe. The petition further alleges that they illegally used the town seal on this bogus document.

A link to a full article on the matter can be found in the online version of this article.

Confusion over the law

Pevy told the board that there was some confusion among the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) on the law governing the way the mayoral seat should be filled when it was vacated.

This resulted in a lengthy legal discussion before any nominations or appointments were made.

Two different MTAS attorneys offered conflicting interpretations of this statute.

“One school of thought believes that the Vice Mayor doesn’t automatically become Mayor but, instead, performs the functions of Mayor until the next election,” Pevy explained. “The other school of thought—and this is how I understood it until this point when we finally had to deal with this situation— is that the Vice Mayor becomes Mayor upon the resignation of the Mayor or the Mayor’s inability to continue functioning as Mayor.”

Thus, in the first school of thought, Williams would assume the duties of Mayor but remain the Vice Mayor. The Mayor’s seat would then remain vacant until the next election on November 3.

In the second school of thought, Williams would be appointed Mayor and serve until November 3. Her seat would then need to be filled by a current Aldermen, and this would leave two Aldermen seats empty.

He went on to add that there was no case law or attorney general opinion on the matter to offer clearer guidance.

“If you look at the Vice President, the Vice President becomes the President,” Pevy added. “The term ‘Vice,’ when applied to public office, as I’ve always understood it, was to avoid vacancies in office in the event that the head or chairman is no longer able to serve.”

He then asked the board to vote on which interpretation they would prefer to follow.

“We’re in unprecedented times,” he said.

Williams becomes new Mayor

At that point, Williams said, “I’ll just say it: I make a motion that I be put in as Mayor.”

The board then voted 4-1 in favor of Williams taking the Mayoral position, with only Alderman Jim Gilliam voting no.

Williams also told the gathered crowd that she would be in her office at City Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for any community input or concerns.

Pat Stilwell as new Vice Mayor

When it came time to fill Williams’ vacated seat, Gilliam nominated Alderman Steven McClain to take her spot.

Williams then nominated Alderman Wanda Davidson, who did not accept the position.

“I do appreciate you putting your confidence in me to be Vice Mayor,” she said. “But, it’s an opportunity I’ll have to pass up.”

Williams then nominated Stilwell, who did accept.

The board then voted 3-2 in favor of Stilwell, with Gilliam and McClain voting in favor of McClain.

Two new Aldermen

During the ‘visitor’s comments’ portion of the meeting, Paul Hale spoke up from the audience and asked to be considered as Alderman.

“I’ve worked with some of you and some of you I’ve not,” he said. “But, I can work with every one of you.”

When it came time to nominate two new Aldermen, Williams nominated Garrett White. Davidson then nominated Teresa Mauk, and both McClain and Gilliam nominated Paul Hale. All three nominees have actually served on the board in the past.

The board voted 3-2 in favor of White, with McClain and Gilliam voting against. The board voted 2-3 against Hale, with Williams, Davidson and Stilwell voting against. Mauk was then approved 3-2, with McClain and Gilliam voting against.

“Together we’ll make it, but divided we’re going to fall.”

Before the board voted unanimously to accept Jones and Wolfe’s resignations, Alderman Pat Stilwell told the board that, after they are accepted, the board needs to “move on.”

“We’ve got to move on and work together,” she said. “We’ve got people that’s on one side and the other. It’s not worked in the past, and it’s not working now, so we need to get together and meet in the middle. We need to work for the people of Mount Carmel. They are the ones who are paying our taxes, and they are out bosses. We’ve got to stop this nit-picking on both sides of the aisle. Together we’ll make it, but divided we’re going to fall.”

Williams said she agreed with Stilwell’s sentiment.

“I hope we can move forward,” she said. “We’ve got a great community, great employees, and a great city manager, so I think we can move forward and do the right thing for the town of Mount Carmel. I look forward to that.”

Social media misinformation over ‘prayer and dialogue’ gathering leads to counter protest

ROGERSVILLE — A crowd estimated at more than 300 gathered around the Hawkins Co. Veterans Memorial on the Courthouse lawn and on side streets Friday evening in what some participants told the Review was a “show of support for veterans, heritage and police”.

People began pouring into the downtown area in mid-afternoon after social media posts regarding a gathering that evening at Swift Park went viral and quickly became misconstrued, according to the three people who showed up at that location to participate in a livestreamed prayer for peace in America.

Rogersville Police said that someone did contact City Hall earlier in the week to ask if a permit was needed for the event at Swift Park, but said that, to their knowledge, the event never involved Black Lives Matter or Antifa.

“Prayer and Dialogue” Bobbi Smith, who is the Secretary of Care NET CCC told the Review that members of Care Net CCC had planned to meet at Swift Park for “prayer and dialogue” with members of Hasson Street Christian Church.

Care NET CCC, which stands for Care Northeast Tennessee Community Conservation Committee, is an organization focused on “protecting, preserving and enjoying nature and the environment in East Tennessee.” They are a branch of the Sierra Club, and their Facebook page can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/northeasttennesseeteam.

Smith confirmed for the Review that Care NET is not affiliated with BLM as an organization.

Given the similarity in their name, Care NET CCC is often mistaken for Care Net, which is a network of pregnancy centers that focuses on anti-abortion teachings, but the two groups are not affiliated.

“After George Floyd’s killing, we (Care NET) decided to get together with members of Price Public Community Center, Hasson Street Christian Church and others to have a little dialogue,” Smith said. “We decided to meet with them at Swift Park on Friday evening and talk it over. We wanted to talk about, ‘What could we do?’ ‘Could we have a peace walk?’ ‘Could we have a something?’ We don’t even know what the ‘something’ might have been.”

She went on to add that, whatever they had ended up planning, it was going to be peaceful and focused on ‘love’.

“We weren’t expecting to carry signs or anything,” she said. “We had ordered 100 buttons with hearts on them, and we had a little flyer that was about love. We were even planning songs that we could sing with our ukuleles.”

She told the Review that Care NET invited Hasson Street Christian Church Minister Jason Ward to say a word of prayer.

She went on to add that, “out of an abundance of care,” a Care NET member spoke with the Rogersville Police Department about obtaining a permit but were told that they didn’t need one.

“Unless you are blocking the streets or affecting the flow of traffic, you actually don’t have to have a permit if you just want to assemble downtown or at a park,” said RPD Assistant Chief Travis Fields.

Fields also told the Review that organizers from the ‘counter-protest’ also asked RPD about obtaining a permit and were also told that they didn’t need one.

“And that’s all it was about—Prayer”

Ward told the Review following the 18-minute prayer event that several local churches had simply wanted to get together to talk and offer prayers for America during these troubling times.

A post on the church’s Facebook page at 4:13 p.m. on June 26 stated: “We will be going live at 7:20 from Swift Park with a quick word and prayer. Join us to pray for our community, state, nation and world.”

“And that’s all it was about. Prayer. There were no hidden agendas,” Ward said.

When it became apparent that a counter-event was going to happen just a couple of blocks away, in downtown, RPD called a Care NET representative to discuss the event and recommended that they consider postponing.

A recording of the livestreamed prayer event can be viewed on the website, www.facebook.com/hassonstreetchristianchurch.

“We heard BLM and Antifa would be here”

Several members of the crowd that gathered at the Courthouse told the Review that they had heard from multiple social media posts that “a crowd of outsiders” were enroute to Hawkins County with the intent to deface the county’s Veterans Memorial.

That war memorial honors Hawkins County soldiers who died in foreign wars dating back to World War One. For the record, the Memorial does not include the names of local soldiers who died fighting for the North or the South during the Civil War.

“We are here because we heard that Black Lives Matter and Antifa were planning to be here,” said one veteran. “I served in Vietnam and I am a peaceful man, but I can tell anyone this straight up: you come here and mess with this memorial, I promise, I’m gonna mess with you! I don’t hunt trouble but if trouble comes, me and the rest of these guys will be here to meet it head-on.”

Large flags ranging from the American Stars and Stripes, to various Confederate flags, to “Don’t Tread on Me” banners and others, were on display on the street corner, getting waves and horn honks from a continuous stream of traffic through downtown.

“There is not a racist bone in my body” One man who had been holding a Confederate flag at one point, told the Review that Civil War history, as it is taught today, omits the fact that several thousand freed black men voluntarily signed up and fought for the South under that same flag.

“There is not a racist bone in my body,” he said. “I don’t hate anybody, of any color. My interest in the War is 100% historical. My concern is, agitators are wanting to tear down and destroy everything ‘Confederate’ when the historical facts, if they are taught honestly, will show were just as much heritage for black southerners as white southerners. Hell, my son-in-law is black and he and my grandchildren agree with what I am doing here!”

Historically, several thousand freed, former slaves volunteered for service in the Confederate Army, he said.

“Look it up. I’ll bet you never heard that mentioned before, not in school, not by the mainstream news media, not anywhere. I’m not saying that everything that happened back then was right. God knows, slavery was wrong, but you can’t erase history, you can’t change what happened, by tearing down monuments. A man once said that people who forget their history are doomed to repeat it, so that’s why I’m out here today with this flag ... so that people remember. There were lots of ‘issues’ that resulted in the Civil War, but, right or wrong, it’s all a part of our shared heritage and I just wish everybody could look at it that way and let’s all agree that that we won’t ever allow that to happen again in America.”

“How did we get to this point?”

A former Special Forces veteran said that his heart cries for what is happening in America today.

“How in the hell did we get to this point, is what I want to know?” he said. “I watch what’s happening elsewhere, and I think, have people totally lost their minds? We all should want to try to make America a better place PEACEFULLY, but you don’t do that by looting, burning buildings, and by attacking innocent people and trashing the police. We’ve got some great officers here, city cops and sheriff’s deputies, and having lived here all my life, I think we could show the rest of the country how to do it right when it comes to the cops. That’s why, if you ask me, any outside agitators just need to stay away with their bull----. None of us want trouble but if the situation calls for trouble, me and a lot of others are ready, willing and able to stand here and protect what is ours, and to stand with our police officers and defend our heritage.”

Just to be safe

Fields told the Review that, on Friday at around 2 p.m., he called a representative of Care NET to discuss whether or not it would be safe for the group to gather.

“As things had progressed and it was looking like it could be a little rough, just from social media, phone calls, and people coming to the police department, I called her and said, ‘do you think it would be better to postpone it to a different day or cancel it this afternoon?” he said. “I explained the situation to her, and, after hearing that, she agreed. We never asked her to cancel it.”

He, too, noted that there was a lot of misinformation spread through social media.

“We were having a lot of negative feedback as far as false things floating around,” he said. “People were saying there would be destruction, protests and vandalism. I’m really not sure where that came from. We received a lot of phone calls from people saying that they were going to show up and most likely be armed. Automatically, that makes you worry. To say there was a particular threat, against the group, there wasn’t. But, any time you get armed individuals in one place, that can make the tensions a little higher and somewhat a more dangerous situation.”

Smith told the Review that there is no plan at this point to reschedule their dialogue event.

Hawkins County Mayor speaks out

Hawkins County Mayor Jim Lee also weighed in on the event via Facebook, where he posted a photo of the rally around the Veterans Memorial along with a caption reading, “I’m not worried about the thugs destroying our town with all these Vets out here! This group knew there were no protesters coming but decided to show their support. This is not a black and white issue. There are as many white people as black burning down cities! Watch the news and all the videos.”

“That’s pretty radical language,” Smith said of the post. “That’s pretty offensive language, especially since almost every single one of us (members of Care NET) is a grandmother or grandad. This is so disheartening because our elected representatives should represent everybody. To be attacked as if you are a criminal by your elected officials?”

“We were devastated”

She went on to add that she and her fellow Care NET members “were devastated” and shocked when they saw all of the misinformation circulating on social media about the group’s event.

“I have trouble understanding what it was that ticked people off over us having a quiet meeting or the idea that we were somehow ‘outsiders,’” she said.

Though their club has a Facebook page, Smith said that the club’s members “don’t personally don’t follow social media like the younger folks do,” as very few of Care NET’s small club are even under the age of 50.

“We had no idea that it would turn out this way,” she said. “We just thought we were going to be supportive. We think that we do need to improve our racial justice in this country. We need to continue on to improve it. We have the civil rights act, but we need to continue on. In some people’s minds, this is way in the past. In others’ minds, the Civil War isn’t over yet.”

Police said Monday that “everything was quiet” and that the events went forward without incident.

This Saturday, July 4, Volunteer Speedway will host the Schaeffer’s Iron-Man Late Model Series ($5,000-to-win) and the American Crate All-Star Series ($2,000-to-win).

Registration underway at Rogersville City School for 20-21 school year

ROGERSVILLE — City Pre-School and City/County Kindergarten registration for the 2020-2021 school year is ongoing at this time at Rogersville City School.

Please log on to www.rcschool.net and click on registration or call the school at 423-272-7651 and leave your name, child’s name, grade level and address and an enrollment packet will be mailed to you.

CITY PRE-SCHOOL: State law requires that students must be four years of age on or before August 15 of the current year in order to be enrolled in Pre-School. Students may not attend Pre-School if they turn 5 years old before August 15 of the current year. The student must be a City resident, family must meet low income guidelines, and proof of income is required.

CITY KINDERGARTEN: State law requires that students must be five years of age on or before August 15th of the current year in order to be enrolled in Kindergarten.

The following documents are needed for new students that are registering:

• Copy of birth certificate;

• Copy of child’s Social Security card;

• Current Tennessee Certificate of Health (Physical) and Immunization Record;

• Proof of Residence (utility bill or lease agreement);

• Copy of parent/guardian’s Driver’s License; and,

• Custody/Parenting Plan if applicable.

COUNTY KINDERGARTEN: Everything above applies to registration for County Kindergarten Students plus a Tuition Application will need to be filled out.

NEW CITY STUDENTS IN GRADES 1-8: You will need to provide the above listed items plus a copy of the 2019-20 School Year Report Card.

NEW COUNTY STUDENTS IN GRADES 1-8: In addition to the above listed items you will need to provide your end of the year, 2019-2020, report card, attendance information and discipline report from the school that the student was attending at the end of the this school year plus a Tuition Application.

If you need assistance or additional information please contact the school at 272-7651, leave a message and someone will return your call.

Marsh Regional Blood Center maintains COVID-19 precautions for public blood drives; updates donor eligibility guidelines

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – To ensure the Appalachian Highlands has a sufficient supply of lifesaving blood donations, Marsh Regional Blood Center has resumed its community-wide blood drives and updated its donor eligibility guidelines to reflect new federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards.

Effective Monday, June 29, donation deferrals will be modified for individuals who were previously unable to give due to time spent in certain European countries or on military bases in Europe. Potential donors should call 423-408-7500 to be pre-screened for eligibility.

Marsh Regional continues to take appropriate measures to reduce donors’ potential exposure to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), as well as extra disinfection and sanitization efforts and additional physical distancing precautions wherever possible.

COVID-19 does not pose any known risk to blood donors during the donation process or from attending blood drives, and blood donation centers take steps to prevent team members and donors who are not feeling well or who have a fever from reaching the donor area.

Additionally, donors are required to wear a cloth face covering, such as homemade mask, bandana or buff at all times in collection centers or on mobile units. If donors do not bring their own face covering, Marsh Regional will provide one.

Until Friday, July 3, all donors will also receive a $10 Food City gift card.

Community blood drives near the Review’s readership area will be held:

Tuesday, June 30, noon-6 p.m.

Greeneville Community Hospital East, Greeneville, Tenn.

Mobile unit will be parked in front of the hospital.

Wednesday, July 1, 1-5:30 p.m.

Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department, Blountville, Tenn.

Tuesday, July 7, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union, Gray, Tenn.

Wednesday, July 8, 8-10 a.m.

Eastman Credit Union, Wilcox Drive, Kingsport, Tenn.

Wednesday, July 8, 8 a.m.-noon

Eastman Credit Union support center, Wilcox Drive, Kingsport, Tenn.

Wednesday, July 8, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Eastman Credit Union, Meadowview Parkway, Kingsport, Tenn.

Wednesday, July 8, 2-4 p.m.

Eastman Credit Union, Regional Park Drive, Kingsport, Tenn.

Friday, July 10, noon-5 p.m.

Family Christian Academy of East TN, Blountville, Tenn.

As many as three lives can be saved each time someone donates blood – and donations to Marsh Regional stay local to help people in this region.

Marsh Regional supplies blood to 28 regional medical facilities, all regional cancer centers and five air rescue bases in Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky.

To give blood, donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. People with a cold, sore throat, fever, flu or fever blisters or who are taking antibiotics may not donate. Donors should eat a balanced meal before giving blood.

In addition to the scheduled blood drives, donors are welcome at Marsh Regional’s collection centers: 111 W. Stone Drive, Suite 300, Kingsport; 2428 Knob Creek Road, Johnson City; and 1996 W. State St., Bristol. An appointment is required before giving blood at any blood center – donors should call 423-408-7500, 423-652-0014 or 423-282-7090 or visit www.marshblood.com for more information about appointments or to schedule a blood drive at a local business, church, school or community organization. Same-day blood donation appointments are frequently available.

All Ballad Health facilities are taking crucial safety precautions, including enhanced physical distancing measures, increased infection control and new processes and systems to safeguard patients’ care journeys.

At Ballad Health, you are #SafeWithUs.