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Johnson City annexation would set stage for 125-lot housing development


A team of homebuilders formed to boost the availability of housing in the Tri-Cities is asking Johnson City to annex 40 acres off Indian Ridge Road to accommodate the construction of 125 single-family homes.

Developer Danny Karst, manager of the Land Star Group, said the property has good topography and is within a mile of Woodland Elementary School. Similar to the burgeoning West Gate neighborhood in Kingsport, the alliance would develop infrastructure for the project and recruit a homebuilding company to construct the houses.

Commissioners will hold a public hearing for the annexation and the plan of services on Thursday. If approved, the two properties, which together total 40 acres, will be officially annexed. The land is near Indian Ridge’s intersection with Hopper Road and is owned by Cambro Partners.

The board will also decide on second reading Thursday whether to zone the land R-2C (low density residential). They’ll consider the zoning one more time on Jan. 20.

According to the Kingsport Times News, Karst has joined landowners, financial partners and other investors to form a regional homebuilder alliance designed to meet a regional need for housing. The development off Indian Ridge Road is part of that effort, and the group is also wrapping up two other projects in Johnson City.

One is a roughly 60-lot development called the Cottages at Greenwood. They’re also in the process of finalizing 40 townhome lots called the Cottages at Cedar Rock.

After the 2008 financial crisis, Karst said, the construction of single-family homes largely ground to a halt.

“There’s a whole generation of people that I think are looking to own their first home,” Karst said. “This is just a national trend.”

Karst said officials are seeing a significant number of people moving to the region from other parts of the United States. Natural amenities and the quality of education in the region have been especially enticing for new transplants, he said.

Development of the properties on Indian Ridge Road could get underway in March or April, and total completion of the project, including construction of the houses, could take about two years.

Karst estimated that the project would add more than $34 million of value to the tax rolls. Although it’s too early to know for sure, he added that home prices in the new neighborhood could average about $250,000.

The developers also hope to extend an existing sidewalk on Indian Ridge Road to the new housing project, improving pedestrian access to Woodland Elementary School.

Johnson City has seen a recent spike in residential construction. There was a 75% increase in single family starts between 2019 and 2020 and a 110% increase between 2019 and 2021.

According to a staff report delivered to the City Commission in November, the pandemic “spooked” the commercial development markets by slowing new construction and large-scale renovations.

As the pandemic slightly waned and commercial activity reemerged, all development slowed as a result of a significant increase in material costs and supply chain delays.

Surprisingly, staff noted, the pandemic appears to have had no effect on new residential construction.

Johnson City Press newspaper carrier retires after 39 years of service

When Larry Andes finds something he likes doing, he sticks with it.

That’s why Andes spent 39 years as a Johnson City Press newspaper carrier.

Andes, who recently retired, got started as a carrier by helping his father on a paper route after suffering a neck injury. After recovering, Andes took over the route to give his father a break.

“I broke my neck and I started helping my dad do it, and then the last five years of his life I let him vacate, travel and stuff and I done it and I just kept doing it from then on,” said Andes.

And when Andes says he sticks with something, he means it.

Despite a motorcycle accident in 2007 that left him with a broken back, Andes missed very little work as a carrier. His dedication to the route went beyond just being punctual, though.

“Be good to your customers,” said Andes. “Make your job count for something. Don’t go out there and just throw papers. Just be good. Do the best job you can do if you’re going to be a carrier.”

Andes said his route changed very little over his 39 years of carrier service, which allowed him to get to know a lot of the people he delivered to, and talking with the people along his route was his favorite part of the job.

“I learned, it took a while, but I learned that the nicer you are and the more that you go out of your way to help somebody, the nicer people are to you,” said Andes.

Now that Andes is retired, he hopes to have more time to do some of the other things he’s stuck with — like riding his motorcycle.

“I want to ride my motorcycle and see a few different places,” Andes said.


Science Hill students get hands-on with human organs

Science Hill High School students in the Career and Technical Education Health Science cluster had the unique experience of getting to touch and view human organs when the East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine’s “Anatomy on Wheels” program stopped by the high school.

The student reactions were mixed.

The opportunity, however, provided a bit of inspiration for those Science Hill students who might be interested in pursuing a profession in health care.

First-year ETSU medical students opened the class with a presentation to describe the organs students would see and how they function. The students then had the opportunity to put their hands on a heart with aorta attached, two lungs, stomach, liver with gallbladder, spleen and two kidneys.

First-year medical student A.J. Bethurum said he was excited there were a lot of students interested in the medical field.

“To have the opportunity to come and talk with kids and give them this opportunity to either further their interest in medicine, or discover an interest, has been really impactful,” he said. “When you speak with someone, and they say they are interested in business or construction, then you put a human heart in their hands, and their eyes light up.

“They’ve discovered something that they’ve never been exposed to.”

Science Hill junior Marli Cevallos Makofsky said she felt fortunate to have this experience while still in high school.

She called it an opportunity “To experience what you might be seeing if you’re going into the medical field. So, it’s pretty cool to be able to be hands-on and ask questions.”

Science Hill freshman Kate Carter said that she hopes to become a pediatrician one day, so this experience was an exciting opportunity to hear the medical students explain how organs work and feel and see the different parts.

“A lot of the time, it’s really hard to visualize the organs and what they look like just from pictures. But this way, we can see what they do and see how amazing our human body is,” Carter said. “It’s amazing to see how intricate the human body is, and to physically touch organs is a really amazing experience.”

First-year ETSU medical student Fiona Whitaker spoke with Science Hill students and noted that the opportunity to participate in a Certified Nursing Assistance program at her high school helped her define her path to becoming a doctor. Science Hill also has a CNA program.

“That is really where I figured out that I wanted to be a doctor because, before that point, I was looking at other health care fields. Having my CNA and being able to have that experience and see all of the different physicians and day-to-day lives helped me determine that being a physician is something that I want to do.”

The Science Hill health science teachers were excited to provide students with this opportunity.

“By participating in this unique encounter, our classes can meet the standards required by the State of Tennessee, which include career exploration and the study of body systems and their functions,” Science Hill Health Science teacher Kristine Taylor said. “It allows the students to talk with medical students and hear about their varying educational and professional paths that led them to medical school. They are also given the unique experience of applying classroom knowledge in a hands-on environment.”

Classes offered in the health science field at Science Hill include medical therapeutics, health science education, medical terminology, dental science, CNA program, and a pharmacology program. For more information about the health science programs at Science Hill please visit

Recalling Jan. 6: A national day of infamy, half remembered

NEW YORK — Beneath a pale winter light and the glare of television cameras, it seemed hard not to see the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot for what it was. The violent storming of the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters bent on upending the election of Joe Biden was as clear as day: democracy under siege, live-streamed in real time.

Yet a year later, when it comes to a where-were-you moment in U.S. history, there is far from national consensus.

A Quinnipiac poll found that 93% of Democrats considered it an attack on the government, but only 29% of Republicans agreed. A poll by The Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 4 in 10 Republicans recall the attack — in which five people died — as violent, while 9 in 10 Democrats do.

Such a disparity in memory may be inevitable in our hyper-polarized politics, but it’s striking given the stark clarity of Jan. 6 at the time and in its immediate aftermath. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said then that “the president bears responsibility” for the attacks. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., then the majority leader, said: “They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed.”

But since that day, separate versions — one factual, one fanciful — have taken hold. The Capitol riot — the violent culmination of a bid to delegitimize the 2020 election and block its certification — has morphed into a partisan “Rashomon,” the classic Japanese film about a slaying told from varying and conflicting points of view. Indeed, the act of remembering can be a highly mercurial thing — particularly when deep-seated political views are involved.

“We keep using terms like post-factual, but it almost feels like there’s this national psychosis or amnesia about what happened a year ago,” says Charles Sykes, the former conservative Wisconsin radio host and founder of the website The Bulwark. “It’s not just that we’re two nations. It’s as if we live on two different reality planets when it comes to the memory of Jan. 6.”

Nations remember the way people do: imperfectly. Neuroscientist Lisa Genova, author of “Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting,” describes how even the most searing memories are edited each time they’re revisited. An original memory is replaced with a 2.0 version, a 3.0 version and beyond.

“Outside influences can sneak in every time we revisit and recall a memory for what happened. So for these collective memories, we have a lot of chances to revisit them,” says Genova. “Depending on your political point of view, the news channels you watch, what this meant to you, this memory is going to have a different slant based on the story that you tell yourself.”

And a lot of people have been working hard to chip away at the memory of Jan. 6.

Rep. Andrew S. Clyde, R-Ga., has described the siege as like “a normal tourist visit.” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., has claimed the rioters were leftist militants “masquerading as Trump supporters.” Trump has continued to insist that the election — Biden won by a wide margin, with scant evidence of fraud — was the real insurrection.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has attempted to frame the Capitol attack as a “false flag” operation, orchestrated by the FBI. Carlson created a series on the riot that aired on Fox News’ subscription streaming service.

To counter such misrepresentations, other documentary projects have tried to capture Jan. 6 in rigorous, methodical detail.

Jamie Roberts’ HBO documentary “Four Hours at the Capitol” was motivated in part to firmly establish a visual chronology of that day, with the rampage following Trump’s incitement to his followers to “fight like hell.”

Roberts interviewed witnesses and participants. Some of those in the mob praised his film only to later complain after seeing Carlson’s series.

“I had people who were in the film texting me saying: ‘Why the hell didn’t you put that in your film? You’re liars,’” Roberts says. “What I was hoping with the project was to put some very hard and fast facts together with people who can tell the story from a witness perspective. But for some people, it’s still not going to reach them.”

Alexander Keyssar, a professor of history and social policy at Harvard and author of “Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College?”, believes a full-fledged investigative commission, like the one that followed the Sept. 11 attacks, might have fostered more national consensus on Jan. 6. In May, Senate Republicans used their filibuster power to block the creation of such a commission. (A House committee is to soon make public some of the findings from its six-month investigation.)

Instead, many Trump supporters have adopted the former president’s denial over the 2020 election. In the last year, Republicans have passed dozens of laws in 19 states to restrict voting. More election battles loom in the 2022 midterms and beyond.

“It’s obviously dangerous because it becomes precedent,” Keyssar says of the Capitol riot. “It has become a prism through which events are viewed. The prism for a large segment of Republican adherents is that you can’t trust the outcome of elections. If you can’t trust the outcome of elections, that will be true in the future as well. It becomes, as the great historian Bernard Bailyn once said, ‘a grammar of thought.’”

Instead of receding into the past as an anomalous threat to the heart of American democracy, the history of the Capitol riot is yet to be fully written. Some projects are ongoing. To tell the story of Jan. 6, the Capitol Historical Society is creating an oral history. Some of the stories — like those of staffers who have since quit government and returned home — are particularly haunting for the society’s president, Jane L. Campbell.

Meanwhile, the Capitol remains closed to the public. Where tours once regularly paraded, now only those with an appointment may enter.

“When people say ‘Oh, it’s never been this bad,’ well, we did have a civil war. That was bad. That was truly bad,” Campbell says. “But during the Civil War, Lincoln made a decision to finish the dome of the Capitol. We tell that story a hundred times over.”