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WRGS's 'World Famous Swap Shop' going worldwide Nov. 9 with Netflix reality show

Rogersville’s “World Famous Swap Shop” radio program on WRGS will be even more World Famous beginning Nov. 9 when Netflix premiers a reality TV show about the show’s treasure hunter listeners.

“The World Famous Swap Shop” is a buy, sale, trade radio show that has been on the air in Rogersville since 1954. It’s also a WRGS owned trademark, and the program airs 9:35-11 a.m. Monday through Saturday at 1370 AM and 94.5 FM.

Folks call in with something to sell, describe what they’ve got, how much they want for it, and how to get in touch with them.

The new Netflix show follows nine couples who monitor the show religiously, waiting for the next great deal they can snag on the cheap and flip for a big profit.

It’s been exactly three years since WRGS owner Debbie Beal received an email from Hit + Run Productions about starting a TV show.

“They said they’d had a producer up in our area, and he was driving through and he heard our Swap Shop program, and they’d been recording it and they wanted to talk to me about it,” Beal told the Review last week. “They said they were interested in doing a reality show. They had a lot of ideas, and wanted to know if we wanted to be a part of it. At first I was skeptical because ‘I don’t want you making fun of all my people’. But, they assured me that would not be the case. I think it’s going to be a cute show.”

The producers asked Beal to run an ad asking for people who buy and sell on Swap Shop to contact the production company.

They got some names for the ad, and through word of mouth other people started calling. Eventually the show picked nine couples.

There are some local people involved in the show including local historian and antique collector Rodney Ferrell, Surgoinsville antique dealer Mike Ringley, and Jennifer Seals, who currently lives in Tazewell, but previously operated an antique shop on Church Street where Bull Babies is now located.

“We don’t know what made the episodes and what ended up on the cutting room floor, but they (Ringley and Ferrell) were sellers,” Beal said. “In the trailer you see a lot of old creepy dolls. I think Rodney has a lot of old vintage dolls and puppets that might have been up for sale. (Mike) had dealt in antiques for a long time, and he was the first person I thought of.”

Beal added, “They didn’t come to our station until August of last year. And apparently they had already filmed in some other places. They selected people from Knoxville to Tazewell, to Johnson City to Newport. And then they found things to sell all in that area, so they’re filming all over East Tennessee.”

The first day they filmed at WRGS former Swap Shop host Steve Waller was there, along with current hosts Tom Davis and Monica Cisbani, and station news/sports director Jay Phillips.

“They sat and told Swap Shop stories for about two hours, and we had them on the floor rolling in laughter,” Beal said.

They were notified on Oct. 12 that Netflix had released the trailer for the show. That trailer can be seen in the online version of this article at www.therogersvillereview.com

Beal added, “This has been a real experience for us at WRGS watching the whole process with the film crew and the magic of television. We haven’t seen the episodes, so we don’t know what made it into the show and what ended up on the cutting room floor. But you might find you know some of the cast, and it is a family friendly, funny show.”

The first season of six episodes will air on Netflix on Nov. 9, and the second season will air sometime after January of next year.

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'The whole world is united in prayer': Candlelight vigil held for Summer Wells

The Summer Wells candlelight vigil held Thursday at Crockett Springs Park was focussed on lifting up Summer and her family in prayer, spreading awareness about Summer’s case, and giving the community a place to come together in prayer for Summer.

One thing it was not about was discussing theories, speculation, or opinion about the investigation into 5-year-old Summer’s June 15 disappearance.

Hayley Justine Thompson, who helped organize Thursday’s candlelight vigil, drove overnight Wednesday from Port St. Lucie, Fla. to be in Rogersville for Thursday evening’s vigil.

Thompson has been praying for Summer since she disappeared, holding prayer circles for her every Tuesday, which she will continue to do until Summer is found.

She tries not to dwell on theories into what happened to Summer.

“Our job is not to judge or speculate, but it is to pray for these people and help them in any way possible,” Thompson told the Review prior to the start of the vigil. “So that’s what we’re about. We’re about helping them. We’re not about speculation or coming up with theories because we don’t know the fact.”

Thompson added, “I definitely came here in support of Summer and her family. She is still missing, so we still need to be praying for her, and that’s what this event is all about. Bringing the community together because it’s really needed at this time for summer and her family.”

”The whole world is united in prayer”

About 50 people convened at Crockett Springs Park Thursday evening for the candlelight vigil and prayer session.

Summer was reported missing from her home on Ben Hill Road in the Beech Creek community of Hawkins County on the evening of June 15.

There was a 13-day massive search involving more than 1,100 searchers, not including police, covering 4.6 square miles surrounding her home.

However, neither the search nor the investigation has resulted in information leading to Summer’s recovery or what happened to her.

Many of the people involved in Thursday’s vigil have been attending weekly prayer vigils for Summer since her disappearance.

Summer’s parents didn’t attend. One source close to the family said they were out of town.

Thompson said Thursday’s gathering was all about lifting up Summer and her family in prayer.

“This event is for the community to come together,” Thompson added. “There hasn’t been much of an outlet for people to come together for her. It’s right at the four month mark, so we feel it’s really important at this time to keep her case active and her name and her face in the light. We’re hoping that this brings more awareness to her case. … Really the whole world is united in prayer in looking for this little girl and finding out what happened to her.”

Robin Lane was Summer’s assistant Sabbath School teacher at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Forth Henry Drive in Kingsport. Aside from her family there probably isn’t anyone who knows, or loves Summer more than Lane.

Let today be the day she’s found

Robin Lane was Summer’s assistant Sabbath School teacher at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Forth Henry Drive in Kingsport. Aside from her family there probably isn’t anyone who knows, or loves Summer more than Lane.

“Summer was such a sweet little student in our class,” Lane said. “She loved to come to Sabbath School, and every time she came in she’d just run up and give me a big hug. Getting her to sit in the chair was not easy because she had a lot of energy. I was actually the assistant Sabbath School teacher, so that actually allowed me the ability to spend a lot more time with her because the teacher was teaching, and she’d sit on my lap, and we’d do motions to songs and things like that. She liked to help a lot.”

Lane added, “As long as I kept her little hands busy she was really good. Excellent behavior. She just needed a task to do to keep her busy. She was really a sweet girl, and she loved church. She just loved to run around and love on everybody.”

As a family friend and fellow church member Lane said she has tried to be an encouragement and a support to the family.

Lane is holding out hope that Summer will be found.

“I didn’t think it would take this long,” Lane added. “I always pray every day, let today be the day that she’d found. Let today be the day she’s found. And then another day and another day passes. And now four months.”

Why do you attend these vigils?

Lane: It inspires me. I helps me to not give up hope. Somehow, having other people around who are believers gathering together inspires me. It’s kind of like a campfire and you’ve got all the little coals in one little heap, and they all keep each other warm. If one of them gets flipped out it kind of fizzles and dies, but as long as we can stay in that campfire together we can warm each other up and keep each other going, and not give up.”

Jeff Bobo 

Joseph Broadwater prays for Summer Thursday while Hayley Justin Thompson and Robin Lane light candles.

“Us lifting this little girl up as a community”

Another person who has been attending vigils for Summer since the beginning is Timmy Etherton of Kingsport.

“I really want to see the community come out to this because I’d like to see this park filled with people with candlelight,”Etherton said. “(Holding back tears) I really just want to see the community come together for Summer. When I saw Summer’s face, I was like, ‘No, not again. Not another missing child.’ We were just coming off the Evelyn Boswell case.”

Etherton added, “I’m hoping (the candlelight vigil) will create a healthy environment, instead of the bickering, the drama. There’s so many things that happen behind the scenes that we don’t see, and I’m praying that this will bring a healthy environment so people can pray for her.”

Joseph Broadwater, who led Thursday’s prayers, said the candles were to light Summer’s way back home.

Broadwater said he’s continued to attend vigils because that’s what he would want others to do for his family if it was his daughter who was missing.

“So many people are stuck in this thing, I don’t know what I can do,” Broadwater said. “I don’t know what should be done. I was kind of complacent about those things. Another missing child. We always hate hearing those on the news, and often times we don’t know what to do. Sometimes we can pray at home or do something else. I really think unity is the key to this. Unity and gathering around. Us lifting this little girl up as a community. As her community. … This is something bigger than ourselves.”

A video of Thursday’s vigil can be seen in the online version of this article at www.therogersvillereview.com

Robin Lane was Summer’s assistant Sabbath School teacher at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Forth Henry Drive in Kingsport. Aside from her family there probably isn’t anyone who knows, or loves Summer more than Lane.

”Everyone is tired of this terrible search”

One of the more emotional prayers of the evening came from Lane who expressed the impact that the past four months have had on her and anyone else who cares about Summer.

Lane prayed, “Wrap Your arms around her, that she would feel our presence, that she would feel Your peace. That she would know she is not alone. I pray Dear Lord that You would bring her forward. Whatever chains are holding her back, let her break them, Father. You are a chain breaker and a miracle worker and we’re trusting in You because we can’t do it. There’s nothing in our power that’s going to bring this little girl home. You’re going to have to it, Father.”

Lane further prayed, “I just ask Father that this whole thing will come to an end very soon because we’re all tired, and her parents are tired, and the community is tired, and everyone is tired of this terrible search. We just want it all to be over. We want closure. We just ask … whatever condition she may be in, bring her forward, Father. We need closure. We need peace, and if she is sleeping in Jesus, then Praise the Lord that she’s not hurting. We ask that you bring someone forward who might know where she is, that we might end this suffering.”

If you have any information about the Summer Wells disappearance you’re asked to call the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 272-7121 or the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

Little ghouls and goblins returning to downtown Rogersville for 10th annual Trunk or Treat

After taking last year off because of something that was REALLY scary, the streets of downtown Rogersville will once again be filled with ghouls and goblins (and probably a lot of superheroes) for the 10th annual Trunk-or-Treat.

Because Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, “Trunk or Treat on Main Street” will be held in downtown Rogersville on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 5-8 p.m.

Trunk or Treat is a safe, fun alternative to trick or treating with lots of candy for everyone up to 12 years of age. But, you don’t have to be 12 or under to have a good time. Many parents get into costume, as do the people manning dozens of “Trunks” along Main Street.

Main Street will be blocked from Hasson to Brownlow and cars will be lined up and down the street. Participants are asked to decorate their trunks and load them with candy.

Children will line up on the Brownlow side of Main Street to walk the gauntlet of horror, and collect their treats, and will exit at Hasson and Main.

Upon registration at the entrance, children will receive a tote bag and a card with the Trunk numbers on it. Each trunk will mark their number off on the card when a child receives their candy.

This year organizers are requesting all vehicles participating in Trunk or Treat enter from Depot Street.

A costume contest will be held on the lawn in front of the Hawkins County Courthouse, with registration from 5:30 to 6 pm. If you’re little monster is going to be in the contest, they may want to skip the trunks after card and tote bag, and head straight for the courthouse.

Judging is at 6:30 p.m., which should leave well over an hour to double back and hit all the Trunks for your treats.

Costume contest age groups are 0-3, 4-7, and 8-12. Costumes will be judged on creativity. No commercial costumes.

Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places in each age group, with ribbons going to all participants.

A 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophy will also be awarded for the best decorated trunk.

To reserve a space for your car, or to volunteer for the event contact the Chamber of Commerce at 423-272-2186.

Visit www.rogersvilletnchamber.com or www.rogersvilletnmainstreet.com to download car registration, sponsorship and volunteer forms.

Forms may be faxed into the Chamber office 423-272-8751.

“I’ve been blackmailed, harassed and stalked:" Mount Carmel Alderman speaks out on ethics complaint filed against her

“They are trying to blackmail me to where I resign, and they are constantly harassing me,” Mount Carmel Alderman Mindy Fleishour told the Review. “It’s just extremely hard to go through…”

Fleishour is the subject of one of several ethics complaints filed local businessman Jim Griffith between Oct. 14 and 15. These complaints were filed after Griffith posted numerous times on both his personal social media platform as well as that of the Review that he had “documents he would soon be releasing.”

Screen shots of these social media claims can be found in the online version of this article.

One of Griffith’s ethics complaints alleges that Fleishour posted videos of herself performing sexual acts on a pornographic website several years ago and “talked nasty things to an elderly” citizen via email recently. The complaint includes email correspondence between Fleishour and an unnamed “elderly lady” as well as a screenshot of a profile from a pornographic website Griffith alleges belongs to Fleishour.

However, Mount Carmel City Attorney John Pevy told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen at the Oct. 14 workshop that these allegations “do not violate our code of ethics.”

“I don’t think that these things (in the complaint) are properly adjudicated by the code of ethics,” Pevy added.

In response, Alderman John Gibson made a motion to add these ethics complaints to the agenda for the Oct. 28 full meeting to vote on their credibility.

Pevy noted that investigating the numerous complaints from Griffith as well as the ethics complaint filed by citizen Brenda Parker last month against City Manager Mike Housewright would be extremely expensive. Should the board decide that the complaints are without merit and vote in favor of dismissing them, they would not have to pay an attorney to investigate them.

However, Fleishour told the Review that Griffith’s public allegations against her have already caused her much emotional trauma.

“I have been harassed for months”

“I have been harassed for months and months,” Fleishour told the Review. “I don’t know this person (Griffith) at all. So to be a target…? I am being harassed and literally stalked by these people. My attorney even told me this is the same mindset a rapist employs--trying to bully their victim into humiliation.”

She said that, around three months ago, she began to hear from city employees that Griffith was telling people in the community that Fleishour allegedly had a profile on a pornographic site in the past.

“Once I caught wind that they were posting things, I spoke to an attorney about it,” Fleishour told the Review. “He told me, ‘if this is the only thing they have against you, just own it and move on. Once they know that you know, it should die down.’ I don’t even know how (Griffith) got this information because it’s not associated with my legal name.”

Fleishour sent an email to Griffith and others who were spreading this information.

“What I find completely insane is that people would try and take something that I did, which is legal, eight years ago and try to define me as a person now--that they would stoop so low to try and ruin my good name,” Fleishour wrote in the email correspondence included in the complaint. “It’s old, I’ve grown as a person, I was young… And all of this for what? A seat on a board in a city with the worst reputation in the state? I will not be resigning from my seat like the hope with all this has to be.”

However, even when she “owned” her actions in the past, Griffith and others did not stop spreading the information. In fact, Fleishour said that the situation got worse.

“They want to humiliate me until I resign”

“I think the whole goal of this was to humiliate me enough to where I would resign my seat from the board and they could put Jim Griffith in my position,” Fleishour said when asked if she knew why Griffith had targeted her.

Though no public campaign announcements have been made, Griffith has repeatedly posted on his social media profiles that he intends to “run for office” in Mount Carmel.

Griffith alleged in his complaint that Fleishour “talked nasty things” to an elderly lady via email, and that Fleishour wrote, “(F) off” to the elderly lady. Fleishour’s email also allegedly stated, “I’m not ashamed of anything from my past..I never knew you were a closet lesbian. If you wanted old pictures of me, I would’ve given you some.”

Fleishour told the Review, “I responded negatively, and my email was highly inappropriate, but you can only push someone so far before they have just had enough.”

She noted that this email response was sent after receiving numerous messages from the woman threatening to expose Fleishour’s past adult website to the public.

“The email that she sent to me was highly degrading,” she said. “They sit here and tell me this is all my fault and I should have kept myself out of the public eye. It’s pushing the ‘victim’ mentality — blaming me for something they’re choosing to hold over my head.”

She added, “It has nothing to do with today or who I am. It didn’t define me as a person then and it doesn’t now. The sad part about it is that they want everything good that I have done for this community to be overshadowed by the one mistake I made. But what they don’t understand is that I’m not going to resign. I’ve not committed a crime, so I can’t be forced to resign. So, all this for what?”

Worried for her safety

Fleishour told the Review that, after this information began to spread, she also began to worry about her safety.

“It’s definitely something that has played on my mind,” she said. “It’s sad because we live in a culture where women are shamed all the time for being confident in themselves or their bodies. We shame women with rape and with everything — it seems it’s always the woman’s fault.”

She added, “I am the kind of person that my name means everything to me. When people hear your name, you want them to think good things about you. They are trying to create an atmosphere where, when people hear my name, they think about something that doesn’t even pertain to current-day life.”

Instead, Fleishour explained that she wants to highlight the positive work she has done for the town.

“Hosting the fall festival was one of my biggest accomplishments on the board,” she said. “I fought for the funding for it, and we were able to pull it off with only four months of planning. I also fought to get the Senior Center’s contribution raised and voted in favor of donating money to the elementary school’s drop off and pickup system.”

She also serves Mount Carmel on the Joint Parks and Recreation board alongside representatives from Church Hill and Surgoinsville. She also coaches in the recreation leagues. Prior to serving as Alderman, she also organized softball tournaments for area youth two summers in a row, and she is a Tennessee Chapter Leader for the National Free Mom Hugs Association, which brings awareness and support to the LGBTQ community.

“I fight for my community every day,” Fleishour said. “These people who are coming after me, if they were in need, I would still fight for them. People just need to do better, be better, and show more compassion.”

Griffith files additional ethics complaints

On Oct. 14, Griffith filed this ethics complaint as well as another against Housewright, Pevy and Mayor Pat Stilwell wherein he claims that Stilwell and Housewright “let Pevy lie in an open board meeting” about a lawsuit Griffith filed against the town in early 2020.

Pevy told the board at their Oct. 14 workshop that these allegations are also “not based in fact.”

During the case hearing on Oct. 23, 2020, the town was dismissed from the lawsuit and was found at no fault. The lawsuit itself was dismissed with prejudice, which means that it cannot be filed again in its current state.

Griffith filed two additional ethics complaints on Oct. 15. As of Oct. 19, the board planned to vote on the credibility of Griffith’s complaints at their Oct. 28 full meeting. The Weekend edition of the Review will feature additional stories on these complaints.