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Jonesborough to celebrate 50th anniversary of Jonesborough Days Festival

Jonesborough will host its 50th Jonesborough Days Festival this week to coincide with Fourth of July festivities. Attendees can expect a surplus of family activities, live music, craft booths, storytelling, a patriotic parade, fireworks and more.

The festival will take place in Historic Downtown Jonesborough on July 3 and 4. However, the celebration really begins with a Jonesborough Days Kick-off Dinner on July 1 at Jimmy Neil Smith Park from 6-8 p.m.

The Kick-off Dinner menu will feature shrimp, sausage, corn, potatoes and crawfish, with fruit cobblers for dessert, according to the Jonesborough Days website. Tickets are $15 per person and can be purchased individually or as a table. Curbside pick-up is also available for to-go meals, and advanced tickets are recommended. To purchase tickets visit https://townofjonesborough.thundertix.com/events/186506.

The festival itself is free, open to the public and will begin with the Jonesborough Days parade at 10 a.m. on July 3. Activities will continue all day, with the third annual MoonPie Eating Contest taking place at 4 p.m. in front of the Washington County Courthouse.

The contest consists of three different age categories: 8 and under, 9-15 and adult. Contestants will be challenged to see who can finish all their MoonPies first. Registration is free and will begin at 3:30 p.m. in front of the courthouse. The winner of each category will receive free MoonPies for a year.

Ingles Market will host a Watermelon Social in front of the courthouse at 2 p.m. on July 4, providing free watermelon on a first-come-first-served basis. An artifact find will also be going on throughout both days of the festival.

Festival-goers will begin the arti-find scavenger hunt at the Jonesborough History Museum in the Visitors Center and end at the Chester Inn Museum. Participants will need to pick up an arti-find card from either the Chester Inn Museum or the Visitors Center, collect signatures for all six artifacts and turn in the completed card at the Chester Inn Museum to be entered in a drawing to win a gift basket.

Discovery Park, located behind the Storytelling Center, will house a multitude of activities for children and their families. The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre will also present the USO Show with several performances scheduled throughout the weekend. Tickets can be purchased at www.jonesboroughtheatre.com/.

Main stage entertainment, located next to the courthouse, kicks off at 6 p.m. on Saturday with The Beach Nite Band, formerly known as The Collegians, performing their “Carolina Beach Music.” Storyteller and musician Michael Reno Harrell will take the main stage at 6 p.m. on July 4, followed by Rumors ATL: A Fleetwood Mac Tribute at 8.

Festival activities will wrap up with fireworks at 10 p.m. on July 4. This year’s fireworks are sponsored by Wolfe Development, and Jonesborough has partnered with Electric 94.9 to play music synced with the firework show.

For more information about the event, please visit https://jonesborough.com/special_event/jonesborough-days-2021/ or Jonesborough Days on Facebook.

The Roots: Vietnamese cuisine offered in Zen-like serenity

As the pageant of our daily lives gets back to pre-“Interesting Times” levels, we need a place to stop, draw an unhurried breath, take our feet off the pedals and, well, chill out.

Located at the heart of Johnson City’s Med-Tech Corridor, The Roots Vietnamese Restaurant and Coffee Lounge is a calm oasis of delicious food and quiet times where one can enjoy a cup of excellent coffee or have a bite to eat while reviewing the past and contemplating the future in an atmosphere of Zen-like serenity.

First impressions

The entry to The Roots is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling tinted windows that add an additional quality of airiness to a dining area that seats 40 or so seekers of serenity. The cashier and takeout station is located along the dining area’s rear wall, its counter and cabinetry supporting several intricate coffee makers of interesting design. The restrooms are accessed through a short hallway at right rear.

Appetizer: Spring Rolls

Our server Christopher brought my dining partner and I our drinks and stayed around to answer any questions we’d have about The Roots’ menu. When dining on Southeast Asian cuisine, my dining partner always orders the spring rolls as a way to check on the kitchen’s preparation and presentation of their menu items. With spring rolls, you are looking for fresh, crisp and crunchy vegetables in your filling, matched with a protein source, steamed shrimp in our case, with all of it filling a properly prepared and delicate rice paper wrapper. My dining partner ordered a plate ($6.95 for two) and was very pleased with the result. In addition to the steamed shrimp and its vegetable medley of julienned cucumber strips, sticky rice and mint leaves, the spring rolls came with a nicely spicy sweet chili sauce for dipping.

Grilled Pork and Fried Egg Rolls Noodle Bowl

After considering her options, my dining partner chose a noodle bowl topped with grilled pork and fried egg rolls: in Vietnamese: Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuong ($10.95). While the Bun noodles were tasty enough all by themselves; the addition of succulent grilled pork sections and some fried egg rolls in easy to handle pieces was just what my dining partner needed to renew her own serenity.

Broken Rice Specialty Entree

Though I was planning to order a bowl of Pho, the Vietnamese classic soup, done The Roots way, Christopher suggested I check out The Roots’ specialty called Con Tam Dac Biet ($14.95).

Here, you start with a substantial serving of “broken” rice, (rice grains broken during harvesting, milling or transport, differing from the usual whole or long grain rice only in size; there is nothing wrong with it.) To this is added a slice of chopped pork meatloaf grilled over an open flame, some shredded cooked pork mixed with onions and julienned potato, some crumbled shrimp mixed into tofu and then fried, and a salad of young lettuce and Asian vegetables. Once plated, the broken rice is garnished with a fried egg.

This is a dish where you take little bites of everything in front of you, reveling in an always-differing combination of flavors and textures that change from mouthful to mouthful. The pork meatloaf was especially good when combined with broken rice and a dribble of the fried egg’s yolk sticking to it. I also found the shredded pork to be well-suited when mixed with the Asian salad, and could have made a meal of just those two elements (which I may do the next time I dine here.)

Finally, the shrimp and tofu was good, though I found it a difficult food item to fit in with the meal. The fried shrimp and tofu’s flavor was subtle to the point of delicacy, a delicacy that, combining it with anything else would overwhelm its flavor and leave the diner with an unlooked-for texture reminiscent of cartilage. Despite this one instance, my platter of Con Tam Dac Biet was very good indeed.

The bottom line

Lunch or supper at The Roots is one of the best ways to unwind with your family or friends. The locale is an easy drive of a few minutes from any part of Johnson City, the interior is airy, well-lit and comfortable, service is impeccable and the menu selections are outstanding. Most of all, there is an attitude to The Roots that seems to create a serene outlook on daily life.

Believe me, as the “Interesting Times” fade like an old bruise, we all could do with some serenity and a place that fosters it.

ETA champ Nick Cohen.

Nick 2

Washington County commissioners to continue debate on new budget

Washington County commissioners will face a full slate of issues when they meet Monday, with a continued debate on setting a new county budget, appointing a redistricting committee and reviewing a list of waterline extension projects on their agenda.

The commission will meet at 6 p.m. in the George P. Jaynes Justice Center.

Board Chairman Greg Matherly said the commission will likely take up a lengthy discussion on balancing the county general fund’s proposed new $43.9 million budget. Commissioners voted last week to reject a plan to balance the spending proposal by taking $3 million in local option sales tax dollars from education and using it to plug a deficit.

Instead, commissioners requested the Budget Committee to look at spending cuts and reserve funds to fill the gap.

“I expect we will have a very in-depth discussion on the budget,” the chairman said. “Each budget year has its own special circumstances, and we’ve had deficits to fill before. This year we must decide if we want to violate our own reserve policy in how much of our fund balance to use.”

Looking For Direction

Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy emailed all 15 commissioners on Friday and instructed them to “please bring your budget workshop booklets, ‘County Commission Draft 1’ and your recommended cuts to the FY22 budget” to the monthly meeting.

Until a new budget is set, Matherly said the county will operate on a continuation budget when the new fiscal year begins July 1. That spending will be based on one-twelfth of the current fiscal year’s budget.

Water And Other Issues

Matherly also expects commissioners will take some time to discuss a resolution that outlines a list of 15 county waterline extension projects.

The resolution doesn’t specify how those projects — totaling an estimated $8 million — will be funded. Grandy said earlier this month the funding options should be left open while officials learn more about how the county might use a portion of the $25.5 million it will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act for expanding water service.

Matherly said commissioners will also consider a resolution to name each of the board’s 15 members to serve as the county legislative body’s reapportionment committee. By law, local, state and federal governments must redraw legislative districts based on the latest U.S. Census numbers.

“We’ve got to get started on redistricting, but we won’t get our census numbers from the state until late September,” Matherly said.

Bitcoin issue to be heard by Washington County leaders in July

County commissioners will have to wait a month to hear a presentation from BrightRidge officials on steps the utility plans to take to address noise complaints at a bitcoin mining operation in rural Washington County.

Board Chairman Greg Matherly said Friday BrightRidge officials have promised to offer solutions to the problem when commissioners meet in July.

Officials from BrightRidge were asked to come to the board’s June meeting after commissioners heard from residents in the Limestone community last month. Craig Ponder, pastor of New Salem Baptist Church, said his congregation and neighbors of the community were being disturbed by the constant noise from the computers and cooling fans used by Red Dog Technologies in its cyber mining operation.

Bitcoin mining is a process that produces cryptocurrency by using computers to solve very complex math problems.

“At request of Commissioner Kent Harris, BrightRidge will come next month to discuss solutions to the noise problem,” Matherly said.

He noted BrightRidge officials said the engineer who is involved in addressing those noise concerns was unable to attend Monday’s meeting of the commission.

Matherly also said a presentation from Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership asking the county contribute $50,000 to help market a remote worker relocation initiative was also removed from the commission’s monthly agenda.

Johnson City commissioners voted in April to contribute $100,000 to a marketing campaign by NETREP, the Johnson City Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association to bring remote workers to the region.

Mitch Miller, the CEO of the regional partnership, said NETREP will be meeting with county budget officials next month to explore “other alternatives for funding” the remote worker relocation incentive program.