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.

Burning ban in effect for Scott County

HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has imposed a temporary ban on open fires in Scott County and 50 other counties in Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee.

As a severe drought continues to worsen across the region, Governor Haslam on Monday responded to the growing number of wildfires in Tennessee by issuing the burning ban. The ban applies to campfires and the burning of vegetation, construction debris and household items. It does not apply to grills or similar enclosed devices, although residents are urged to be cautious about how grill ash is disposed of, either by waiting until the ashes have cooled or dousing them with water.

As of Wednesday, Nov. 16, there were 67 active wildfires in Tennessee, encompassing some 23,000 acres, according to the Tennessee Division of Forestry. There were no active wildfires in Scott County.

The U.S. Drought Monitor currently classifies Scott and surrounding counties as being in a severe drought.

Highland Telephone certified for gigabit internet speeds

SUNBRIGHT, Tenn. — Highland Telephone Cooperative was certified today as a Gig-Capable Provider by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association. Highland earned this award after more than six years of work to replace its copper network with an all-new fiber optic network. Because of the new system, the cooperative is able to deliver world-class gigabit broadband speeds to the people of Morgan and Scott counties in Tennessee and McCreary County, Kentucky.

The gigabit speeds are 100 times faster than the top speed many Americans can receive in their homes.

“This gigabit certification caps off years of careful planning, investing and building a brand-new fiber network for our area,” said CEO Mark Patterson. “All along, we knew our commitment was worth the effort so our friends and families in this area could keep their rural lifestyle without sacrificing world-class connectivity.”

To build the fiber network capable of bringing gigabit speeds to the region, Highland crews and contractors ran more than 2,700 miles of fiber — enough to stretch from the cooperative office in Sunbright, Tennessee, to Vancouver, British Columbia. The $66 million investment is already improving the region’s quality of life, health care options, educational opportunities and economic outlook.

“Our area lacks interstates and many economic advantages that other communities enjoy, and we’ve suffered through some extremely high unemployment in recent years,” Patterson says. “An asset like a gigabit-capable network can be our competitive edge when it comes to bringing in industry and growing existing businesses.”

While gigabit speeds are a major tool for economic development, the speeds will also add convenience to the daily lives of those in Highland’s service area. For example, Highland members with a 1 Gbps internet connection can download a two-hour, high-definition movie in as little as 25 seconds. Downloading that same movie on a 10 Mbps connection would take about 55 minutes.

NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield lauded HTC for its commitment to innovation and service.

“I applaud Highland for its commitment to delivering the internet’s fastest speeds — an accomplishment worthy of much praise considering the challenging circumstances small, community-based telecommunications providers operate under in serving some of our country’s most rural and remote communities,” Bloomfield said. “By building a gigabit-capable network, Highland has not only overcome these challenges, but also shattered conventional benchmarks for broadband speed to enable cutting-edge technologies that drive innovation and promote economic development in their communities, region and nationwide.”

More information about the NTCA Gig-Capable Provider certification program is available at

County audit conducted

HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has completed its annual audit of Scott County’s basic financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, resulting in only minor findings.

The Comptroller’s office on Nov. 8, 2016, released the findings of the audit. In the Office of Director of Finance, the audit found that a scheduled principal payment on a capital outlay note had not been made. In the offices of Clerk & Master and Register of Deeds, the audit found that duties were not segregated adequately.

Specifically, auditors noted that the finding in the Office of Director of Finance was due to a staff member not understanding the rule of repayment provisions authorized for debt instruments.

“As soon as the error was presented to the Finance Department, the principal payment was made to the bank,” the audit noted. “The finance director discussed the procedures of the repayment of debt instruments with the staff member. The finance director will be reviewing the debt schedule each month for that fund. The finance staff will attend continuing education courses that pertain to GASB updates and changes to state law pertaining to accounting, purchasing and budgeting.”

In the offices of Clerk & Master and Register of Deeds, the finding regarding inadequately separated duties was a repeat finding.

“A resolution to correct this deficiency was never suggested; therefore this clerk had no idea on how to correct this to the audit’s satisfaction,” Clerk & Master Jane Lloyd noted.

“It really didn’t hinder or make the office operate in a better manner, but I made these corrections to comply with the state requirement so that federal funds would not be withheld from the county,” Register of Deeds Benjie Rector noted.

Both offices submitted a plan for corrective action as a result of the audit. In the Clerk & Master’s office, the clerk will be responsible for making bank deposits. In the event that she is absent, the bookkeeper will take deposits to the bank. The bookkeeper will not issue manual receipts, and the chief deputy will not issue checks. The actions were put into place on July 1, 2016.

The complete audit is available for inspection.

Date set for annual Christmas parade

ONEIDA, Tenn. — Through the eyes of a child.

That will be the theme of the 2016 Scott County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade, which will march through the streets of Oneida on the afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 3.

While the parade’s fine details are still being sorted out, entries are already being accepted. The parade will step off from its traditional lineup location — the parking lot of HBD Industries on Industrial Lane — at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3.

The parade will turn left onto Industrial Lane and continue east on Industrial Lane before turning left again onto Alberta Street (U.S. Hwy. 27). From there, the parade will travel north on Alberta Street to Traffic Light No. 5, where it will turn right onto Claude Terry Drive before disbanding in the parking lot at Oneida Elementary School.

Application forms for parade entries can be downloaded, printed and returned to the Chamber of Commerce’s offices at the Scott County Visitor Center on U.S. Hwy. 27 in Huntsville. Blank forms can also be picked up at the visitor center Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

The deadline for submitting completed applications is Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 5 p.m.

In the event of inclement weather, the parade will be held Sunday, Dec. 4, at 3 p.m.

Scott Countians urged to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses

HUNTSVILLE — Scott County Mayor Dale Perdue and Art Miller, director of the Scott County Health Department, urge residents and business owners to start “Tip and Toss” and “SWAT” actions to prevent mosquito breeding grounds.

“Mosquito season has started in Tennessee, presenting potential health problems for residents who could be bitten by disease-carrying mosquitoes,” said Perdue. “To prevent mosquito breeding spots, we urge residents and business owners to do a cleanup near their homes and establishments, discarding or tipping over items than can unintentionally hold water that mosquitoes can use to lay eggs and multiply. A mosquito can lay her eggs in something as small as a plastic soda bottle top, so tossing these types of items into the trash could help prevent you or someone else from suffering a mosquito bite.”

“Most mosquitoes rarely travel much farther than the length of two football fields, a little more than 200 yards from where they are born. Having a SWAT plan in place – Standing Water Abatement Tactics – can prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs and then living near your home or business,” director Miller said. “By eliminating standing water, we can reduce our chances of suffering a mosquito bite, which is not just an itchy irritation, but may cause the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.”

Tennessee is home to many types of blood-sucking mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are capable of transmitting several serious diseases. At this time, mosquitoes in Tennessee are not transmitting Zika virus disease, which has been associated with birth defects. Mosquitoes here, however, are known carriers of other diseases seen each year in Tennessee, including West Nile and La Crosse encephalitis. They also carry dengue fever, yellow fever and Chikungunya virus although not currently in Tennessee.

“While there’s reason for concern and a need to prevent mosquito breeding places, there’s good news for all of us: Mosquito bites are entirely preventable,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Prevention starts with wearing long, loose and light clothing; treating exposed skin with safe and effective repellents; and using clothing treated with permethrin in risk areas. Now, more than ever, we all need to ‘fight the bite.’”

TDH recommends the following:

•Apply repellants to skin often; these can include lotions, liquids or sprays. TDH and CDC recommend use of repellants which contain DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane 3, 8-diol and IR3535. Duration of protection varies by repellant; read labels on products to determine when reapplications are necessary for optimal protection.

•Wear long, loose and light-colored shirts and pants and wear socks. Tucking shirts in pants and tucking pants into socks will help form a barrier. Wear closed shoes or boots instead of sandals.

•Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase pretreated permethrin clothing.

•Avoid perfumes, colognes and products with fragrances that might attract mosquitoes.

To prevent mosquitoes from breeding in larger water holding devices, such a bird baths or garden pools, TDH recommends using larvicides such as mosquito torpedoes or mosquito dunks. If used properly, larvicides will not harm birds or animals.

“Our efforts in Scott County will complement and support ongoing work in every county of the state to reduce or eliminate disease-carrying mosquitoes,” Perdue stated. “We can’t think of mosquito bites as mere nuisances; they could cause illness or even death, particularly among the very young, older people or those with weakened immune systems. We owe it to our neighbors to tip, toss and SWAT near our homes and businesses, and to be more deliberate in our personal ‘fight the bite’ efforts.”