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Voters to decide a number of crowded ballots in the coming months

Voters in Tennessee will face a busy mid-term election season in 2022, with races for local, state and federal offices on the ballot.

The first election contest comes on May 3, when voters will go to the polls to decide primaries for county offices and local judicial posts. Offices on the ballot in Washington County are:

• All 15 seats on the County Commission;

• Three seats each in the 1st and 3rd districts of the county’s Board of Education;

• County mayor;

• Trustee;

• County clerk;

• Register of Deeds;

• Circuit Court clerk;

• Sheriff;

• Chancellor;

• Circuit Court judge;

• Criminal Court judge;

• General Sessions Court judge;

• District attorney general; and

• Public defender.

Candidates have until noon Feb. 17 to qualify for the primary. That deadline is the same for independent candidates seeking those offices in the Aug. 4 general election.

Winners of the May 3 primaries will appear on the county’s Aug. 4 ballot, which also include the primary for municipal, federal and state offices. The deadline for candidates to qualify for that primary ballot is noon on April 7.

In addition to the general election contests, offices that will appear on the Aug. 4 primary ballot are:

• Four seats on the Johnson City Board of Education;

• Governor;

• Tennessee state senator;

• Tennessee state House members in 6th and 7th districts;

• U.S. House of Representatives 1st District; and

• A male and female committee member of both the state’s Republican and Democratic party executive committees.

The winners of the Aug. 4 primary will next appear on the Nov. 8 general ballot for those offices. In addition to the races for Johnson City Board of Education, city voters will also fill two seats on the City Commission and Jonesborough voters will decide a race for mayor and two seats on the town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

New Year's Day wind on Watauga Lake perfect for 22nd annual Frostbite Race

There was a lot of tacking and jibing — zigging and zagging in layman’s terms — going on at the 22nd annual Frostbite sailboat race.

One thing not going on was frostbite.

Saturday proved to be a great day for sailing as 12 captains and their crews set out for the Jan. 1 tradition on Watauga Lake, according to Ed Lockett, the safety boat captain.

“This is the most exciting race we’ve had in several years … it’s the best wind we’ve ever had,” he said. Spotters on the safety boat clocked winds at a pretty steady 19 to 21 knots — 21 to 24 mph for non-sailors — but there were some pretty strong gusts as well.

First-time competitor Jay Emberton said he was just hoping to learn a few things from the seasoned sailors in the race. Emberton and his wife, Suzanne, acquired their sailboat earlier this year and have had it out several times, he said.

Unfortunately for Emberton, a ripped sail cut his run short.

A ripped sail didn’t stop Commodore Brandon Bray. His main sail ripped about a third of the way up shortly into the race, but he kept plugging along and ended up finishing third.

This year’s winners, Bill and Adair Murdoch, are no strangers to the water or to winning the Frostbite race. They were not, however, the favored boat, captained by Skip Green, which finished second.

The winner’s prize? Bragging rights.

Murdoch’s two grandchildren were on the boat during the race, and said it was scary, especially when the boat leaned into the wind. No boats tipped over, but it has happened in the past, Bray said before the race.

But there were plenty of “rails in the water,” meaning the boat was leaned over to the point the side rail touched the water.

Lockett said that in past years the race has taken up to two-and-a-half hours from start to finish. Saturday’s race took about an hour because of the wind speed on the water.

And while the race was a competition, Lockett said if any sailor gets into trouble, any one of the others would sacrifice their own progress and help their fellow captain out.

The race course began near Lakeshore Marina, went to Watauga Point and around the island there, then back to the starting point of a red buoy in the water.

As usual, plenty of people were gathered at Watauga Point to watch the boats go sailing by. Not only is the race an annual tradition, but watching it from that park is as well.

Ellie gets a forever home

Ellie, the three-legged dog once in need of a home, was adopted on Christmas Eve.

Last week the Press published Ellie’s story as told by Washington County Humane Society Program Director Halee Robinson.

Ellie was a normal dog living a normal life until she was attacked by another dog and was so severely injured that she lost her front leg, according to Robinson.

“During her recovery, Ellie not only regained her mobility, but her trust in humans and other dogs as well,” Robinson said.

But she still needed a home, and the Humane Society of Washington County set out to find her one.

“After the article was published, we received an overwhelming amount of responses. We had calls and emails of people wanting to foster and adopt sweet Ellie,” Robinson said.

One of those inquiries happened to be from the Miller family.

“We did our very best at finding the most appropriate family for Ellie, given her needs. The Miller family, Sharon and David, came and met Ellie on the 24th. They signed a foster caregiver agreement and took her home,” Robinson said.

“By the end of the week, they knew they wanted to make her a permanent member of their family. Ellie lives in the home with another dog and they are already the best of friends. She is also spoiled by their granddaughter.”

Ellie’s owners plan to have her enrolled in training to become a service dog.

“Sharon wants to take Ellie to the VA to give a little encouragement to disabled and wounded veterans. Ellie would make the absolute best ‘mascot!’” Robinson said.

Man wanted on charges of rape, attempted kidnapping back in custody

Wayne Morris Sr. — facing charges including stalking, rape, attempted kidnapping and multiple violations of an order of protection — is back in custody.

He was being held without bond until a bond hearing Monday at 10 a.m. Prosecutors have asked the court to revoke the $141,000 bond Morris had previously posted.

Details of his arrest were unavailable, but Morris Sr. was booked into the Washington County Detention Center Friday, according to officials there.

Morris, 56, 2904 Chatham Drive, has six warrants with 20 charges against him, and he has posted a total of $179,000 bond to a bonding company.

Morris’ charges:

He was arrested Dec. 20 after being shot multiple times outside the woman’s home.

  • Dec. 20, 2021: Charged with violation of order of protection, aggravated assault, aggravated stalking, attempted aggravated kidnapping and two counts of electronic tracking of a vehicle. Bond $100,000.
  • Dec. 4, 2021: Charged with violation of order of protection, aggravated assault, attempted kidnapping and stalking. Bond $42,000.
  • Dec. 1, 2021: Charged with violation of order of protection, contempt of court and harassment. Bond $2,500.
  • Nov. 23, 2021: Charged with violation of order of protection, contempt of court and harassment. Bond $2,500.
  • Nov. 20, 2021: Charged with violation of order of protection. Bond $1,000.
  • Sept. 11, 2021: Charged with aggravated burglary, rape and false imprisonment. Bond $31,000.