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New Fund Announced to Support Local Businesses Impacted by COVID Crisis in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia

(Northeast TN/Southwest VA) – Regional business organizations and companies have united to support local businesses severely impacted by the COVID Crisis. The group has established the Local Business Recovery Fund that will share monies received through a fundraising effort with grants to small businesses that are found to be in the greatest need.

“Organizations across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia are doing what they can in a united effort to help save jobs and local businesses in the region,” explains Andy Dietrich who helped organize the fund. “For local businesses that may not qualify for government loans, we want to provide another option to help them get through the crisis and hopefully survive.” “This is a great testament to the effort to bring a regional focus to our area,” says Ken Heath, Executive Director of the Town of Marion, VA’s community development organization.

Grants are intended for local businesses involved in arts, entertainment or recreation, accommodation and food services, retail trade, or the manufacturing sectors.

Businesses can apply for the grants by going to and submit their applications. An allocation committee made up of regional economic development representatives, educators, healthcare professionals, a banker and a Certified Public Accountant will review the applications and disburse the funds as quickly as funding and applications can be received through the effort.

“The amount that we will be able to give to small businesses relies on how much consumers and other businesses are willing to give,” say Beth Rhinehart, President and CEO of the Bristol Tennessee-Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “We know that local businesses here have always supported key fundraising charities, such as the Niswonger Children’s Radiothon or Speedway Children’s Charities,” says Claudia Byrd, Director of the Bristol Chapter. “Many of those great donors are now in a crisis at no fault of their own, and I hope consumers and other businesses who have not been impacted so deeply will donate enthusiastically for this important cause.”

Any donor can learn more about the fund and can donate online at Those wishing to donate by check can do so by submitting to the Local Business Recovery Fund, 603 East Market Street, Johnson City, Tennessee 37601. “The support of our local media outlets has been extraordinary and appreciated in support of this effort,” says Mitch Miller, Executive Director of the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership. “Every media company that we have contacted has wanted to play a role in this important undertaking,” explains Clay Walker, CEO of NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership.

“Greene County businesses are hurting,” explains Jeff Taylor, President and CEO of the Greene County Partnership in Tennessee. “Citizens and businesses who are less affected by the COVID crisis can do something important for these hurting businesses across the region now with their donations.”

Local businesses and sole proprietorships that are locally operated are eligible to apply for a grant in Carter, Greene, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington Counties in Tennessee and Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise Counties along with the independent cities of Bristol and Norton in Virginia.

“We hope that this crisis will end very soon so that we can begin the recovery,” says Bob Cantler, President and CEO of the Johnson City, Jonesborough, Washington County Chamber of Commerce. “Till then, and long after, your donations can help to preserve jobs tied to local businesses that we know and love.”

Miles Burdine, President and CEO of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce sums it up. “The government loans can’t serve all of the needs of small businesses in our region. We want to help businesses across the region that might fall through the cracks of government loans. Our focus is on not just the Tri-Cities but the region to help businesses in smaller rural counties as well as our cities.”

Learn more about the fundraising effort at   

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COVID-19 Drive-Through Testing events scheduled for Northeast Region April 18-19

JOHNSON CITY – The Northeast Regional Health Office is hosting COVID-19 drive-through testing events for the community April 18-19,2020. Nurses and/or National Guard medics at each site will collect nasal swabs from those who want to be tested, and test results may be available within 72 hours after the samples arrive at the lab, depending on lab volume.

“Anyone with health concerns, or who has concerns about the health of a family member, is invited to come to one of these locations this weekend to receive testing for COVID-19,” said Northeast Regional Health Director Rebekah English. “This testing will be provided at no cost to participants, and those who come for testing can remain in their vehicles throughout the process.”

Sample collection for testing will be offered at the following locations and times:

  • Saturday, April 18, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Volunteer High School, located at 1050 Volunteer Street, Church Hill, TN
  • Sunday, April 19, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at East Tennessee State University in the parking lot across from the soccer fields located at 1276 Gilbreath Drive, Johnson City, TN.

The Northeast Region’s Coronavirus Public Information Line is open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling 423-979-4689. Tennessee’s Coronavirus Public Information Lines are open from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily by calling 833-556-2476 or 877-857-2945.

The Tennessee Department of Health is posting updated COVID-19 case numbers by 3 p.m. EST each day at Find additional information at and

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Carter County to receive grant funds for COVID-19 response, government support

ELIZABETHTON – Carter County Mayor Rusty Barnett and State Sen. Rusty Crowe announced Thursday that Carter County will be receiving more than $900,000 in grant funds from the state in response to local government needs and the impact of COVID-19.

Barnett said the grant funding was welcome news to Carter County as the county is looking at decreased revenue in the upcoming fiscal year due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. “The state has cautioned local governments that revenues could be significantly down due to the virus outbreak,” Barnett said. “With residents being asked to stay at home whenever possible, revenue the county receives from sales tax along with money that comes in from the fuel tax are expected to be below normal levels.”

“We are very grateful to Gov. Lee and our officials in the General Assembly, especially Sen. Rusty Crowe, for their support our community during this difficult and uncertain time,” Barnett added.

With the anticipation of decreased revenue, Barnett said the county is looking to tighten the budget, and that could put some necessary projects on hold. He hopes that the grant funds the county will receive through the Local Government Support Grants approved by the Tennessee General Assembly and Gov. Bill Lee will allow some of those needed projects to continue.

Carter County’s share of the grant funding from the state is $936,990, with that money being earmarked by the state for very specific types of expenditures. According to information Barnett received from the state, permitted spending categories for the grant funds include: COVID-19 response, IT hardware upgrades, capital maintenance, utility system upgrades for existing water and sewer infrastructure, road projects, and public safety.

Barnett said he will be working with Carter County’s other elected officials to prioritize the projects that could benefit from the grant funding.

Crowe said he was pleased to be part of the effort to help Carter County and the other communities across the state as they try to recover from the economic impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“I am pleased the General Assembly and our Governor worked together to make these funds available to local communities in our state to help them get through these difficult times,” Crowe said, adding he has high praise for how the local communities in Northeast Tennessee have responded to the virus outbreak. “I am very proud of Mayor Barnett for being so proactive in this crisis. When we stand together, we are stronger, and I am proud to stand with Mayor Barnett for the citizens of Carter County.”

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TEMA, TN Dept. of Health issue statements about Corona Virus

On Friday, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Tennessee Department of Health each issued statements regarding the Corona Virus (COVID-19) and the state’s preparedness should the disease make it’s way to the state. Please see those statements below:

TEMA Statement:

Tennessee Dept. of Health Statement:

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County mourns loss of Commissioner Ronnie Trivett

On Friday evening officials and employees of Carter County were saddened to hear of the passing of Carter County Commissioner Ronnie Trivett.
Commissioner Trivett served on the Carter County Commission for more than twenty years over the course of two tenures with the Board. As a commissioner, Mr. Trivett served on numerous committees and boards over the years, most recently serving on the Budget and Nominating Committees. He represented the county’s 3rd District which includes the Watauga, Range, Keenburg, and Central precincts.
“I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Commissioner Ronnie Trivett,” Carter County Mayor Rusty Barnett said. “He was a dedicated public servant who spent over two decades representing his constituents with honor and integrity. He will be greatly missed by his fellow commissioners and the county’s elected officials.”

Below is the obituary for Commissioner Ronnie Trivett:

Ronald Eugene Trivett

Ronald Eugene “Pappy” Trivett, 75, Elizabethton, passed away Friday, October 11, 2019 at his residence after a brief illness.  A native of Carter County, he was a son of the late Culbie & Novella Simerly Trivett.  Ronnie was a 1962 graduate of Hampton High School. He served in the United States Army and the Tennessee National Guard.  He formerly was employed at North American Rayon Corporation, a bus driver and was a Carter County Commissioner for over 20 years.  Ronnie was a member of Slagles United Methodist Church.  He was also a member of Watauga Masonic Lodge # 622.  In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a sister: Ruthie Trivett and a nephew: Timmy Oliver.  He was an avid fisherman & hunter.

Survivors include his wife of 55 years: Patsy Guinn Trivett.  A Daughter & Son-In-Law: Lynnetta Trivett & Leo Lothridge.  A son: Tony Trivett.  His Granddaughters: Ashley (Michael) Shouse and Whitney (BK) Marlowe.  His Great Grandchildren: Sutton Marlowe, Hadley Shouse, Destiny, Cadence & Addison Lothridge.  His Step-Grandsons: Todd & Adam Lothridge.  His Sisters: Kathy (Butch) Oliver and Brenda Hunter.

Funeral Services will be conducted at 7 p.m. Monday in Memorial Funeral Chapel with the Rev. Charlie Trivett and Pastor Lou Crandall and Pastor Mike Berry officiating.  Graveside Service and Interment will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, October 15, 2019 in the Mountain Home National Cemetery.  Music will be provided by Gail McClure.  Active Pallbearers who are requested to assemble at the cemetery at 12:45 p.m. Tuesday will be: Leo Lothridge, B.K. Marlowe, Michael Shouse, Ronnie McClure, Keith Trivett and Steve Trivett.  Honorary Pallbearers will be:  his church family, past & present Commissioners of the Carter County Court and all his family and friends.  The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday in the funeral home.  In lieu of flowers Memorials may be made in memory of Ronnie to the Slagles United Methodist Women c/o Slagles United Methodist Church, 285 Old Watauga Road, Elizabethton. Tenn. 37643.  Military Honors will be provided by Boone Dam 4933.  Family and friends will assemble at the cemetery at 12:45 p.m. Tuesday. Condolences may be sent to the family at our web-site

Memorial Funeral Chapel is serving the Trivett family.

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Miller appointed to represent county’s 8th District

Newly appointed County Commissioner David Miller is sworn into office by Carter County Clerk Mary Gouge.

Members of the Carter County Commission appointed David Miller to fill the vacancy created earlier this year by the death of former Commissioner Rick Richardson.

Miller was one of four applicants seeking the vacant seat to represent the county’s 8th District. The other applicants were Cody McQueen, Jeff Guinn, and Donnie Graham. During the Commission meeting on June 17 the applicants who were in attendance were given the opportunity to address the full Commission.

After the first round of voting, the field was narrowed to the two applicants receiving the most votes – Miller and Guinn. In the second round of voting Miller received 14 votes while Guinn garnered 8.

Following the vote, Miller was sworn into office by County Clerk Mary Gouge and took his seat on the Commission. Miller joins Commissioners Kelly Collins and Robin McKamey in representing the 8th District, which includes the High School and Harold McCormick Precincts. In addition to serving on the County Commission, Miller will serve on the following committees: Buildings & Grounds, Health & Welfare, Rules & Bylaws, and Law Enforcement.

Miller will serve on the Commission through August 2020. Under state law, when a commission seat is vacated, the full Commission appoints a replacement to fill the vacancy until the next general county election. Richardson was elected to the Commission in August 2018 and his term would have expired in August 2022. The next county general election is slated for August 2020. Miller will serve on the Commission through that time and then the winner of the August 2020 election will serve the remaining two years of Richardson’s original term.

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County mourns loss of Commissioner Rick Richardson

Commissioner Rick Q. Richardson

On Monday morning officials and employees of Carter County government were saddened to hear of the passing of Commissioner Rick Richardson.

Commissioner Richardson was elected in 2018 to represent the county’s 8th District, which includes the Harold McCormick and High School Precincts. As a member of the County Commission, Mr. Richardson served as Chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee as well as a member on the Financial Management, Rules and Bylaws, Health and Welfare, and Law Enforcement Committees.

“I am very saddened to hear about the passing of Commissioner Rick Richardson,” Carter County Mayor Rusty Barnett said. “He was a dedicated commissioner who represented his constituents with honor and integrity. He will be greatly missed by his fellow commissioners and the county’s elected officials.”

Below is the obituary for Commissioner Richardson.

Rick Quinton Richardson

Rick Quinton Richardson, of Elizabethton, left all pain and suffering behind and went to live with his Lord on the morning of April 22, 2019.
Those left behind to cherish his memory include his two children, Keely Richardson Goodwin of Kingsport, and Cory Richardson of Elizabethton; his mother, Darlene Smith of Elizabethton; his two precious granddaughters, Jovie and Lindy Goodwin; and several special cousins and friends.
He was preceded in death by his father, Quinton Richardson, and his only brother, Bill Richardson.
Rick Richardson was a devout Christian and a faithful and lifelong member of Borderview Christian Church, where he served as a deacon for over 20 years.
Rick was born and raised in Elizabethton where he led a life of service and leadership. A 1973 graduate of Elizabethton High School, he served his school as student body president.
He graduated from East Tennessee State University in 1978 with a B.S. degree in Journalism and started his career at the Johnson City Press in 1979 where he worked in advertising and multi media sales until his retirement in 2014.
Rick was elected to the Carter County Commission in 2018 to serve the 8th District (Harold McCormick and High School precincts), and he was the chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee which has oversight of the county’s facilities, as well as a member of the Financial Management, Health & Welfare, Law Enforcement, and Rules & Bylaws Committees.
Rick’s name was synonymous with Little League in Carter County, as he coached hundreds of youngsters for more than 20 years in the Elizabethton National Little League and later, the Cal Ripkin League. He also served as the president of the League. He served on the Elizabethton Twins Commission for years and just named to the Elizabethton Twins Stadium Task Force.
He also coached youth basketball at the Boys & Girls Club Elizabethton/Carter County for many years.
Rick was an avid gardener and rose grower, and was the founder and first president of the Watauga Valley Rose Society. He also served as a consulting rosarian for the American Rose Society for many years.
Finally, Rick was a passionate University of Tennessee Vol fan who attended as many UT football and basketball games as possible to root for his beloved Big Orange. For that reason, his family encourages those attending visitation and/or services for him to honor his love of the Vols by wearing Tennessee orange.
Rick Richardson’s life will be celebrated at Memorial Funeral Chapel, 212 North Main Street, Elizabethton, Tenn., on Wednesday, April 24, with Brother Scott Fisher, Senior Minister at Borderview Christian Church, and Randy Carrier, minister, officiating. Visitation for family and friends at Memorial will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday followed by a Celebration of Life service at 7 p.m. Graveside services will be conducted at Happy Valley Memorial Park, 2708 Elizabethton Highway, on Thursday, April 25, at 11 a.m. Active pallbearers, who are requested to assemble at the funeral home at 10:20 a.m. Thursday, will be Brother Randy Carrier, Leonard Febuary, Ray Don Markland, Scott Reynolds, Matt Fisher, Joel Norris, Jody Crowe, Raymond Morton, Jordan Hinshaw, Travis Lowe, Justin Wandell and Sage Richardson. Honorary pallbearers include Tony Bowers, Jerry Bowers, the Carter County Commission and the Borderview Christian Church family. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that Rick’s memory be honored with a donation to the Boys & Girls Club Elizabethton/Carter County, 104 Hudson Drive, Elizabethton, TN 37643 or to Borderview Christian Church, 1338 Bristol Highway, Elizabethton, TN 37643. Family and friends will assemble at the funeral home at 10:20 a.m. Thursday to go to the cemetery. Condolences may be sent to the family at our website at
Memorial Funeral Chapel is serving the Richardson family.

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Plans for Carter County resort to be unveiled at upcoming meeting

ELIZABETHTON STAR – Carter County residents will get their first look at plans for a new lakeside resort planned for the Watauga Lake area during Tuesday’s Carter County Planning Commission meeting at 3 p.m.

The project, being developed by Daniel Goodhall and his family, is one he says could one day provide as many as 500+ jobs in the county.

To read more CLICK HERE.

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