ID Board, Chamber of Commerce to purchase water bottle filling stations for schools

HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. (July 12, 2017) — A water bottle filling station is being purchased for each of Scott County’s nine schools, as well as the Boys & Girls Club of the Cumberland Plateau, the Industrial Development Board of Scott County and the Scott County Chamber of Commerce announced today.

The purchases are being funded by grant money through the Tennessee Three Star Community program, which will also be used to purchase each student in Scott County a reusable water bottle.

“This is an exciting step forward for our schools,” said Stacey Swann, executive director of the ID Board. “Any time the IDB and the Chamber of Commerce can partner with our schools to help make improvements for our community’s students, it’s a great day.”

Swann heralded the teamwork at the municipal level that helped make the Three Star grant application successful. She credited Scott County Mayor Dale Purdue, Huntsville Mayor Dennis Jeffers, Oneida Mayor Jack E. Lay and Winfield Mayor David Cecil for their cooperation throughout the grant process. The IDB and the Chamber of Commerce were tasked with completing the extensive legwork required for Scott County to receive recertification as a Three Star community.

“The guidelines for the grant funding that accompanies the Three Star certification changed this year, and the traditional things that money could be spent on were no longer an option,” Swann said. “We put our heads together to come up with a project that would benefit the youth of Scott County and meet the state’s guidelines, and this is what we came up with.”

Water bottle filling stations have become a must-have in public schools in recent years, but tight budgets prevent many schools from making those purchases. Two years ago, parents teamed up to raise funding for a filling station at one local school, but most local schools remain without the filling stations.

Benefits of the water bottle filling stations include providing free water for students whose parents cannot afford to supply them with bottled water, reducing the amount of plastic bottles that are disposed of in landfills and reducing sickness in schools. Traditional water fountains are germ magnets, with the mouths of dozens or even hundreds of students coming into contact with the same metal surface in a single day.

“There is a lot of focus on healthy living right now, both in Tennessee and across the nation,” Swann said. “One key component of healthy living is staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water. It’s exciting that we can offer our students a stylish and free way to refill their water bottles, which will hopefully encourage them to drink more water and fewer sugary drinks.”

Tennessee’s Three Star program requires successful communities to develop and implement strategic plans that focus on five areas: jobs and economic development, fiscal strength and efficient government, public safety, education and workforce development, and health and welfare. The program is administered by the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development.

Free home repairs available

Appalachia Service Project (ASP) is a Christian ministry open to all people, that inspires hope and service through volunteer home repair in Central Appalachia. ASP will repair homes free of charge again this summer for Scott County families in need. Using volunteer labor and the leadership of summer staff, ASP hopes to work for 12 or more families in the area- so take action to apply now.

Appalachia Service Project will be working actively in Scott County from mid-June through late July. All applications submitted throughout the year will be evaluated by ASP Staff, and candidates will selected based on scale of the projects, skill level needed from volunteers, ASP’s budget, and safety of the work site. Types of projects include porches, wheelchair ramps, foundations, insulation, roof replacement or repair, weatherization, new doors, and more. The goal of the ASP summer program is to help make homes warmer, safer, and drier across 30 counties in Central Appalachia.

The Home Repair application can be found online at, and can also be found and left at the following locations for Scott County residents: Morgan Scott Project, 1022 Old Deer Lodge Pike, Deer Lodge; and Appalachian Ministry Center, 24728 Scott Highway, Winfield.

You can also request an application by calling ASP Headquarters at (423) 854-8800, and send it to Appalachia Service Project, 4523 Bristol Highway, Johnson City, TN 37601.

To be considered for this summer’s ASP Home Repair Program, residents must complete the application and return it by June 1 to any of the above locations.  After June 1st, applications should be returned to the ASP staff at Winfield Elementary School.

Since its founding in 1969, ASP has repaired more than 16,693 homes throughout Central Appalachian Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia through the hard work of more than 358,216 volunteers from across the nation.

Spring Planting Festival is Saturday

ONEIDA, Tenn. — Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area will be hosting the 17th annual Spring Planting and Music Festival on Saturday, April 29, near the Bandy Creek Visitor Center.  The festival celebrates the coming of spring and the Appalachian way of life that has been such an important part of the history of the Big South Fork area.

The plowing and planting with mule and horse teams, which take place in a field adjacent to a carefully preserved Upper Cumberland farmstead, is one of the primary focal points of the event.  At the same farmstead, the public will have the opportunity to gain new insights into gardening and get their hands dirty as they learn to plant a range of garden vegetables.  Visitors will also have the chance to experience close at hand forgotten arts such as blacksmithing, horseshoe making, split rail fencing, quilting, embroidery, marble making, woodworking, farmstead skills and trapping.

Toe-tapping mountain music will be performed throughout the event area by an array of skilled musicians, and the main stage will feature nonstop music from some of the region’s most gifted musical talents.  The young and young at heart will have the opportunity to play with a wide variety of old fashioned toys.  Park staff and volunteers will also be providing a variety of programs that celebrate the coming of spring, including a guided bird walk at 8:00 a.m. (ET), programs on owls and hawks, and a guided wildflower hike at Leatherwood Ford at 11:00 a.m.  In cooperation with the Knoxville Track Club, the park will be hosting a Kids Fun Run at 9 a.m., and the Oscar Blevins four mile and seven mile Trail Runs at 10:00 a.m. to help visitors actively participate in this season when the world is full of movement (sign up at  Visitors are encouraged to join park staff and volunteers in a celebration of spring and of the self-reliant way of life that has been a crucial component of this region’s history and culture.

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County-wide clean-up set for Saturday

HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. — The annual Vivian Smith Scott County Looks Good To Me county-wide clean-up will be held Saturday, April 22, 2017.

The event begins with registration at 9 a.m. and continues until 12 p.m. Residents are urged to get involved and spend the morning cleaning up a road of their choice within their community.

There will be several registration locations throughout Scott County, each of which will be manned by county commissioners. In the 1st District, the registration location will be Fairview School. In the 2nd District, the registration location will be Robbins School. In the 3rd District, the registration location will be the Scott County Office Building. In the 4th District, the registration location will be Helenwood Baptist Church. In the 5th District, the registration locations will be Pine Hill Community Center and Winfield City Hall. In the 6th District, the registration location will be Oneida High School. And, in the 7th District, the registration location will be Burchfield School.

A community cookout will follow the clean-up, beginning at 12:30 p.m. at the Scott County Office Building in Huntsville. The cookout is free and prizes will be awarded.

The county-wide clean-up is a collaborative effort of the Scott County Mayor’s Office and the Scott County Litter Program, the Scott County Recycling Center, the Scott County Sheriff’s Department, the Scott County Road Department, the Scott County Board of County Commissioners and the Scott County Chamber of Commerce.

Boys & Girls Club to host car show

ONEIDA, Tenn. — The Boys & Girls Club of the Cumberland Plateau will host an antique car show Saturday, April 22, 2017.

The show will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 1 p.m. The registration fee for all automobiles and motorcycles is $10. A free dash plaque will be presented to the first 25 cars, and each registration includes a free pancake breakfast.

Admission is free for spectators. There will be a pancake breakfast for $5, and bounce house admission will also be $5.

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Health Department offers free flu vaccines

HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. — Flu season is here, with seasonal influenza cases now reported across Tennessee. The Scott County Health Department is working to protect the entire community by providing flu vaccinations at no charge to area residents on a first come, first served basis. A small amount of vaccines is still available and to ensure they can be used to protect health will be provided at no charge to patients until vaccine supplies are depleted. Patients may walk in to request a flu vaccine any time during regular clinic hours or appointments can be made to receive flu vaccine, and are now being scheduled at the clinic.

“Anyone, even healthy people, can get the flu and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age. Vaccination is the best protection against the flu, and the Scott County Health Department recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year,” said Art Miller, County Director. “It takes about two weeks to be protected after you get the flu vaccine, so we want everyone who hasn’t had their flu shot to get one right away to help keep our community healthy.”

The flu vaccine is especially important for people at high risk for serious illness or death from influenza such as the elderly, pregnant women and young children, as well as healthcare workers and family and friends of anyone at high risk. Expectant mothers should be vaccinated during pregnancy to protect themselves and pass protection on to their unborn babies.

Both adults and children may receive the free flu vaccine at the clinic.

Call the Scott County Health Department at 663-2445 today to book your appointment. The clinic is located at 344 Court St. in Huntsville and open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Hospital will open as Big South Fork Medical Center

ONEIDA, Tenn. — Scott County’s new hospital will open this spring as Big South Fork Medical Center, it was announced Monday.

Rennova Health Inc., the Florida-based company that purchased the hospital facility from Pioneer Health Services, said in a news release Monday morning that the new name is the result of the “Name Your Hospital” community involvement campaign that the company conducted on Facebook.

“We want to thank everyone who participated on Facebook to offer many great ideas,” the hospital said in a release. “We narrowed down the ideas to the five most popular suggestions and sent three qualified recommendations to the local Chamber of Commerce for final selection. This was truly a community effort.”

Tony Taylor, administrator of the hospital, said that allowing the community to choose the hospital’s name shows Rennova’s commitment to Scott County.

“I have been a part of this community for over three years now and it is encouraging that the new owner for this hospital wanted the community to take the lead in naming it,” Taylor said. “This name represents our market very positively. We are very appreciative to the community for participating and naming the facility, as this is more than just a building that sits on a hill. We are part of the community, we are here for you.”

The hospital said there will be several announcements made as the core management team works towards reopening the hospital. While the exact opening date is uncertain, the hospital expects to begin receiving job applications March 1 and will soon announce a web portal for the online application process.

“The opening of Big South Fork Medical Center is a day our business community has anxiously awaited for the past eight months,” said Ben Garrett, president of the Scott County Chamber of Commerce. “The benefits of the hospital’s reopening will extend well beyond the obvious, which is our residents having access to quality health care close to home. Community hospitals are vital to the economic health of rural communities like ours. The new hospital will play a vital role in Scott County’s efforts to recruit new industry and sustain our existing small business community. Thank you to Rennova Health and Mr. Tony Taylor for their faith in Scott County, their investment into our community, and their diligent efforts to quickly work through the process of breathing new life into our hospital.”

Improvements to be made to O&W Bridge

Improvements are coming to the historic O&W Railroad Bridge in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.

The Scott County Chamber of Commerce announced in July 2016 that it has received grant funding through a tourism grant to fund a $97,000 project to replace all timbers on the century-old bridge. The grant was facilitated by the Industrial Development Board of Scott County, and supported by the Tourism Committee of the Chamber of Commerce.

Work on the bridge was originally expected to begin at the conclusion of the fall tourism season in November. However, an unexpected delay in the release of funding has resulted in the project being delayed.

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Winter sights await at Grand Gap

Stand on the edge of the cliffs that line the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and a few of the small streams flowing into it between Leatherwood Ford and Station Camp, and it isn’t hard to imagine the Cherokee Indians that once inhabited these lands before the white man arrived standing on the rock outcroppings, scouting the river valley below.

When it comes to aerial views (from foot) of the Big South Fork, it’s hard to beat any one of the dozen or so marked overlooks scattered about the rim of the gorge north and south along the river. But if your idea of taking in the scenery and getting away from the day-trippers that head to places like East Rim and Blue Heron, it’s hard to beat a hike along the Grand Gap Loop.

A 6.8-mile loop trail along the west rim of the river gorge, Grand Gap Loop offers views that are simply spectacular — especially during the winter months, when there is no foliage to limit visibility.

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Tis the season for flu prevention

HUNTSVILLE — On Nov. 1, Scott County Mayor Dale Perdue and county health department director Art Miller met to kick-off the promotion of the importance of the flu vaccine. Perdue is asking all county citizens to take advantage of the flu vaccine being offered at the Scott County Health Department and other local health providers and pharmacies in Scott County.

The Scott Health Department is currently providing flu vaccine and will provide clinics at the local schools within Oneida and Scott County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Tennessee Department of Health report that the influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.  It can cause mild to severe illness.  Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death.  Populations such as young children and elderly are at a higher risk for serious flu complications.

“The most effective defense against the flu is to be vaccinated,” stated Miller.

The CDC reports the flu vaccine will protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and one or two influenza B viruses, depending on the flu vaccine.

“Good health habits such as covering your cough, washing your hands often and people who are sick should stay home to recover and to prevent spreading illness to co-workers and friends can assist in preventing the spread of germs such as the flu as we enter the flu season,” said Miller.

Schedule your appointment today for your flu shot by calling the Scott County Health Department at 663-2445 or contact your provider.