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Despite Wet Weather, Relay For Life Mission Remains

The Greeneville High School gymnasium was a vision of purple Saturday evening, representing the strength, hope and resilience of cancer survivors.

The annual Relay for Life event, though forced indoors by weather, brought in a crowd of roughly 500 people.

According to the American Cancer Society, one of every three women and one of every two men will hear the words “you have cancer” in their lifetime.

“The first breath you take after hearing you have cancer is the breath of a survivor,” said Jessica Poff, the community development manager for the Greene County and Lakeway areas of the American Cancer Society.

The annual Relay for Life event, Poff said, is the one day of the year where every fundraising team comes together.

“It’s a big party,” she said. “This is one of very few social events where every demographic is represented. We’re all here in one place, with one goal and one cause.”

That cause is to bring an end to all types of cancer. The American Cancer Society conducts research to find a cure, and also financially aids those who are fighting the battle. The organization offers head coverings and wigs, transportation for doctors’ appointments and lodging for extended stays. Poff said that over 2,500 services have been provided this year.

“We also have a hotline for people to call at all times,” said Poff. “If you’re having a rough night, there will always be someone to answer the phone.”

To make this possible, individuals build up teams of volunteers who raise money for the cause. Team Unaka, led by Denise Williams, has raised $60,000 this year, contributing to Greene County’s goal of $150,000.

“It’s truly a year-round effort,” said Poff. “It gives people the opportunity to do something about cancer.”

Over 25 businesses sponsor the Relay for Life event each year, meaning that 100 percent of the proceeds from the event go back into reaching the fundraising goal. This year’s event, though inside due to the weather, was complete with live music and entertainment, food, games and a silent auction.

“It’s wonderful to see the same faces year after year,” said Poff. “People take the time out of their busy schedules to remember the struggle and loss that is caused by cancer.”

Guest speaker Paula Morrison told the audience the story of her own battle with cancer that began last March.

“I was running late for my mammogram appointment and I thought to myself, ‘I’ll be fine, I’ll just skip it,’” she said. Weeks later on her husband’s birthday, she received the dreaded call no one longs to hear.

“I had a 6-centimeter lump in two of my lymphnodes,” said Morrison.

The news of her breast cancer caused her to start asking many questions, including, “Would I be cured? Would I survive? Could I handle the major surgeries?”

Just over a year later, she stood in front of a crowd of fellow survivors and gave God the credit for her health.

“He gave me the strength to place my trust in him,” said Morrison. “This experience was passed through the hands of my creator, and I am grateful and thankful for the physical and spiritual health that my God has provided.”

Through cancer, Morrison said that she developed a new circle of friends and a new outlook on life. Through weeks of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, 24 days of radiation therapy and reconstructive surgery, she knew that she was in good hands.

“I’ll never ever forget how wonderful these people have been to me and my family,” she said. “I want to continue to serve the American Cancer Society as much as I can for as long as I can.”

Following Morrison’s testimony, survivors were given a medallion to wear as they took a lap of victory around the gymnasium. Another lap was taken where caregivers were allowed to join their loved ones.

“Praise God,” said Morrison. “He’s there for me in my story, and he is there for you in yours. We serve a personal God.”

The event concluded with the annual Luminaria ceremony, where glow sticks illuminated paper bags. The white bags represented those who have died, whether from cancer or other causes. The purple bags were lit in honor of cancer survivors, and gold bags were placed in line to honor caregivers.

“The Luminaria ceremony is my favorite part,” said Poff. “That’s the one time of day that everyone is completely silent. Every bag represents someone’s story.”

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Kids 'Have A Ball' At Dairy Day Celebration

All things dairy were took center stage Friday at the annual June Dairy Day event, which showcases the importance of the diary industry to kids and adults alike.

The even is hosted by the Greene County Partnership’s Agribusiness Committee. Friday’s iteration at the Greene County Fairgrounds featured activities and games for people of all ages and, naturally, plenty of dairy products.

Children competed in pedal tractor races as well as milk moustache and ice cream eating contests, which adults were also invited to participate in. There was also a mooing contest, where children mooed into a microphone with the goal of sounding most like a real cow.

Maesyn McGee, 9, emerged victorious in her age group’s milk moustache contest. She said she won the same contest last year, too. “Me and my brother go every year,” she said smiling, as she cheered her brother on in the next age group’s competition.

Winners of the tractor races won John Deere toys while the winners of the dairy-related contests won T-shirts.

Former dairy farmers Betty Love and husband Lanny have been heavily involved with the event for almost three decades. “It’s my 27th year doing this, and I really put my heart and soul into it,” Love said.

She led and judged the competitions, except the tractor races, while Lanny Love supervised with the door prizes. “I couldn’t do this without my husband. We’ll be married 45 years this year,” Betty Love said. She praised her grandson, 8 year-old Carmon Hensley, for his helpfulness in preparing for the event.

In addition to all the festivities and games, there was a small petting zoo with five young cows and plenty of food. The Greene County Farm Bureau Women churned butter on site, which was then offered to taste on saltine crackers.

Lindsay Hensley, Betty and Lanny Love’s youngest daughter, offered samples of several different types of cheese. There were ice cream sandwiches, cheese nachos and cartons of milk — all free to anyone present.

As the event wrapped up, a large group of kids posed in front of the Mayfield cow outside the tent for a photo. Then the door prize winners were announced, and the prizes were distributed. “I think they have a ball,” Betty Love said with a smile.

Entries Sought For July 4 Nighttime Parade

Entries are now being accepted for the Town of Greeneville’s first nighttime Fourth of July parade.

The Andrew Johnson Bank Parade is one of the most exciting parts of this year’s “American Downtown” celebration planned for July 4, according to organizer Amy Rose, the town’s public relations manager.

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of President Andrew Johnson’s return home to Greeneville from Washington, D.C., the theme of this year’s parade is “There’s No Place Like Home,” which Johnson reportedly used, a news release from the town said.

The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site has entered a float in this year’s parade, and organizers hope many others will join them to “light up Main Street.”

Grand Marshals for 2019 are Tim Massey and Caroline Blanks as re-enactors portraying President Johnson and his daughter, Martha Johnson Patterson.

During her father’s administration, Patterson served as the White House hostess due to the illness of her mother Eliza McCardle Johnson. She also directed the restoration of the White House during Johnson’s term.

Entry into the parade is free. The deadline to enter is June 21.

All local veterans, organizations, businesses, classic vehicles, musical groups, churches and anyone wanting to show their patriotism are invited to enter, the release said.

Participants are encouraged to decorate their entries with a patriotic theme, to dress in patriotic clothing, and to follow the theme of “There’s No Place Like Home.”

With the nighttime schedule, entries also are asked to decorate with lights. No fireworks, including sparklers, are allowed.

All parade participants must complete an entry form and get a parade permit at Greeneville Town Hall, 200 N. College St. Entry forms are available at town hall and on the town’s website,, under the “How Do I Apply” heading.

The parade is scheduled to launch at sunset, or around 9:15 p.m., on July 4.

Lineup for the parade will begin at 8:15 p.m. at Towne Square Shopping Center. Judging will be held at 8:45 p.m. with three monetary prizes: $100 for first place, $50 for second place, and $25 for third place, the release said.

Entries to be judged must be in the designated lineup area no later than 8:45 p.m. Entries are asked to enter Towne Square Shopping Center from Irish Street, near Monterrey Mexican Restaurant.

The parade’s route is the same as last year. From Towne Square Shopping Center, the parade will turn right onto Summer Street, left onto Main Street, right onto Tusculum Boulevard and end at Greeneville High School.

After the final entry has arrived at GHS, a fireworks show will be launched from behind Burley Stadium, the release said.

Other parts of the celebration include the Fourth of July Dash for DI, a 5K race to kickoff the day at 2 p.m.; live entertainment on the Waste Industries Stage at 3 p.m.; the Computer Pros Kids Zone; food vendors, and the Top Dog Hot Dog Eating Contest, sponsored by Tony Jones Termite & Pest Control.

Other sponsors of American Downtown are Ballad Health, Gateway Ford Lincoln Nissan, Marsh Propane, Apex Bank, Forward Air, General Morgan Inn, Greeneville Federal Bank, Greeneville Light & Power System, Greeneville Oil & Petroleum, Meco Corporation, Consumer Credit Union, Food City, Greeneville Real Estate & Auction Team, Heritage Community Bank, John Deere Power Products, Summers-Taylor, Walmart Logistics and The Beard Guy & Friends Beard Co.

For more information on entering the parade, contact Amy Rose at 423-639-7105 or or Chan Humbert at 423-329-7400.

More event details are available at the “American Downtown 2019” event at or at

Rodefer Moss Announces Merger With 2 Firms

Rodefer Moss & Co PLLC , a multi-state accounting and advisory firm that began in Greeneville, is merging with two firms to expand its services in the region.

The merger involves Rodefer Moss combining with the firms of Fortner Smalley PLLC and Thrower, Blanton & Associates P.C., according to a release from the accounting firm.

Under the merger, effective July 1, the newly combined firms will continue to do business under the Rodefer Moss name with 160 employees and offices in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Virginia.

Jimmy Rodefer, CEO of Rodefer Moss, said similarity in business philosophy helped bring the firms together. “A client-oriented business is always thinking about, seeking, and finding ways to do more for clients,” Rodefer said. “There’s tremendous experience, brainpower, and passion for the work within Thrower Blanton and Fortner Smalley, successful firms with great reputations. Together, under one banner, our collective resources improve what we do and makes us better for the clients we serve and who depend on us.”

Fortner Smalley has provided accounting and business services for over 30 years in the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia region. Its clients are involved in many different industries including construction, health care, technology, and oil and gas.

The firm specializes in assurance services, taxation, litigation support and business consulting. Co-founder Charles W. Fortner and managing member Forooz G. Smalley have actively participated in the region’s communities serving on numerous non-profit, hospital, financial and education institution boards, the release said.

Smalley presently serves on the East Tennessee State University Foundation Board of Directors, Ballad Health’s Southwest Region Community Board, and Kingsport YMCA finance committee. He is enthusiastic about the merger.

“We are eager to unite with firms that share our same goals and values,” Smalley said. “This merger provides us with significant resources, expertise, tools and flexibility that we can use to address the ever-changing needs of our clients. Our region is experiencing tremendous economic growth and we wanted to ensure that we have the knowledge and tools to support that growth. We look forward to sharing resources and expertise throughout this organization.”

Established in 1948 by Monroe B. Thrower, and joined by his son, M. Bardin Thrower Jr., in 1975, Thrower, Blanton & Associates is one of the leading accounting firms in the region, the release said. The firm provides financial guidance to local businesses and individuals, and offers services in trust and estate planning, financial planning, tax preparation, bookkeeping, payroll, assurance services, and computerized accounting setup.

Managing partner Brian K. Blanton said the firm is looking forward to learning from their new partners in the merger.

“This partnership combines some of the best and most experienced financial minds in the region possessing a variety of experiences and capabilities,” Blanton said. “In one organization, under the Rodefer Moss name, we will be even better, stronger, and bigger, with more resources, for our clients.”

Rodefer Moss was established in 1990 offering financial services including assurance, consulting, small business solutions and tax compliance. The accounting firm provides solutions for companies in many different industries, such as construction, real estate, manufacturing and distribution, government and not for profit, insurance, retail, and many others, the release said.

The firm is an active member in the BDO Alliance USA, a nationwide association of independently owned local and regional accounting, consulting and service firms with similar client service goals. Rodefer Moss is also a member of the Construction Accounting Network, a nationwide alliance of accounting firms with considerable construction-related strength, the release said.

Rodefer Moss currently serves thousands of clients throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Virginia.