Author Archives: John Muse

Boshears Named All-State

In the 1980’s Sherry Bostic was the first ever Lady Cougar to be named All-State in basketball, in fact she was the only one in history. That is until now. Skylar Boshears has now also earned this lofty honor. Boshears was named to the Tennessee Report All-State team. She is joined by district foe Jada Guinn of Oak Ridge and Tournament foe Lindsay Taylor of Maryville.

Skylar had an outstanding season that capped off an outstanding career as a Lady Cougar. She eclipsed 1,900 career points which puts her as the Lady Cougars all time leading scorer and potentially the school’s all time leading scorer.

As part of the Lady Cougars she was part of a senior class that went 95-31, with a district record of 54-6, for their careers. The teams were often ranked in the AP’s Top Ten. They started their senior season 13-0 for the teams longest winning streak in their four year span.

With her high school career over Boshears will play on the next level for the Lady Paladins of Furman.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes: The Middleton Family Story

To say that we had a story of a supermom would be an understatement, but to say we had a story of only a supermom would be denying an amazing father his due credit as well. Each one is as much a part of this incredible story as the other. The husband and wife duo of Jason and Sylvia Middleton, both originally born and raised in Harlan, Kentucky had a story set that humbled me a bit after hearing it. I received a phone call from Sheila Falls. Sheila said it was laid on her heart to bring Sylvia up for attention with a story involving Mother’s Day. I jumped at the opportunity to tell it. I also soon learned it required the couple making hard decisions and sacrifices together to adopt a total of eight children, five of whom have special needs. All this while noticing the children in the home also did their part to make it work. It soon became “their” story. The story of Jason, Sylvia, Gabby, Ava, Madalie, Embersyn, Luke, Maisie, Livie and Reed.

The full unedited videos will be released Friday and put on our YouTube channel, so viewers have an opportunity to watch each individual story of their eight adoptions. You will soon meet this beautiful family while watching the video, and see that their challenges are real. The following is a diagnosis listing of what the family faces every day. Gabriana (Gabby) has Down Syndrome and Autism. Ava has Down Syndrome. Madalie has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Institutional delays. Embersyn has Mike-Moderate Development Delay of Unspecified Origin. Luke has Autism and Tracheal-Esophageal Fistula (eats with a G Tube although he is training to come off the tube). Maisie and Livie have no diagnosis but have developmental delays that have stemmed from being in foster care. The youngest, Reed, has Cerebral Palsy, Bilateral Polymicrogyria, Bilateral open-lipped Schizencephaly, Microcephaly and was a premature birth, born at 35 weeks. Each child has their unique story but the Middleton family has embraced these children with all the love they can pour out. They face their daily challenges with smiles and hugs.

The Middleton’s, having dated since their early teenage years and must have always known somehow that they were going to be together and raise a family. Although, they most likely didn’t know quite how wonderful and challenging it was going to be for them. They started out with one international adoption in mind, finding a beautiful little girl in the Ukraine. This first and particularly unique adoption of Gabby, cost them a lot of money but apparently gained them a volume of experience. With vast learning experience into how the system of international adoptions work, the couple decided to revisit the process and apply their hard earned knowledge. They managed to adopt two more children that way, this time without the massive financial strain the first adoption had put upon them.

Each of their stories is heartwarming, as every child was different making their way into the Middleton home. When asked if they had any natural children of their own Sylvia replied “We get asked that a lot and I really think it’s an odd question and I don’t always know how to respond because these are our natural children. To us, there is no difference in having a child biologically or rather through adoption. We love them just as much. We are a family. We decided long ago that we will not need to have biological children as we have our family here, through these circumstances, and we love it.”

The Middleton’s have also adopted children through foster care and a few of those are still in the process of being worked out. This is why during the video you may see some blurred faces to protect the children. The most recent adoption was an infant named Reed whom you will see in the video. Reed came into their lives as he was born to 14 year old parents. Jason and Sylvia were more than happy to offer their hearts and home to this beautiful baby. According to doctors, Reed has already surpassed any stage level development they expected. Of course, it only makes sense that constant love and attention, real love, given to any child would certainly have a positive impact. Mind stimulation and a nurturing environment in which one could thrive I’m certain is key. What child born with any type of handicap would not excel through love and affection as provided in this environment.

Hands down, I not only give this incredible woman, Sylvia Middleton a Mom Award in the appropriate month of May, but I also give the same shout out for the approaching month of June to her wonderful husband Jason for an absolute Dad Award in our book.

Sylvia shared a lot of information about adoption but time constraints in the original video would not permit all of it to be shown. However, that will all be available in the non-edited video that publishes Friday. The beauty of Facebook, our Volunteer Times media platform and other sources come together in a perfect storm in that we are able (with Sylvia’s permission) to also link her personal Facebook page to this story below. So, if you are one of those people that have been struggling with making an adoption decision be it internationally or domestically or if you’ve wondered about adoption through the foster system, Sylvia and Jason are both more than happy to answer any questions. They can assist in guiding you through the process should this be right for you. The Volunteer Times would like to thank Sheila Falls for reaching out to us about this amazing couple. Also, thank you to the Middleton family for granting me a small peek into their life on a warm, Spring day. I’m a better person for having met this incredible family. Another success story right here in Campbell County.

LaFollette City Council Conducts May Meeting

On Tuesday, May 7th, 2019, at approximately 5:30 P.M., the City of LaFollette held a council meeting in the LaFollette Municipal building. The intent of the meeting, as stated on the agenda, was to discuss a variety of ongoing plans, comments from citizens, and announcements. Also included in the meeting were ordinances and resolutions to the 2018/2019 budget, as well as changes in staff position among the fire department and police department.
The meeting was opened with a call to order by Mayor Mike Stanfield, which was followed with a prayer and pledge. The clerk called roll, and the discourse began.
First on the agenda was the the approval for the meeting minutes of April 2019. Approval was motioned, which was followed by a second, and the approval was carried. Next to be carried were the reports from boards, committees, and departments. After these approvals were met, comments from citizens were heard.
Mayor Stanfield started the topic with the suggestion of a ‘sock hop’ to be held for teenagers on a Friday or Saturday at a local school gym after the school term ends. He proposed to come up with a mix of drinks and snacks to serve. Mr. Bill Archer, a councilman, later echoed Mr. Stanfield’s request for entertainment for teenagers in Campbell County by asking about the possibility of the construction of more centers, such as bowling alleys or movie theaters. No definite plans were made, but the board was asked to look more into having this done.
In other citizen comments, Mr. Sharp, a citizen of LaFollette, complained of drainage problems on his land, which he claimed to be caused by the disposal of illegal substances by another citizen, years prior to the meeting. He also claimed to have witnessed the dumping of drugs on his land personally. He expressed a wish for the board to take action and view it personally, in order to make the decision to clean up the mess. However, City Administrator Jimmy Jeffries brought up records of previous investigations into the matter, which included the enlistment of help from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and spoke of tests for drugs that came back negative. This debate continued for some time, but no agreement on either side was reached. Mr. Jeffries promised to request the reports from the EPA to be available at the next meeting.
The final citizen comment came about the post office that the county purchased, in which the program Postmark holds different activities. The citizen thanked the board for their involvement in the purchase, as the projects and competitions make way for unatletic kids to shine amongst even the athletic in Campbell County. Mayor Stanfield commented on the grants being applied for on behalf of the post office, in order to continue fixing the inside of the old building, and keep the program going.
Announcements came next. First heard was the fire department, who announced that their new firetruck will arrive this Friday, May 10th. This preceded the announcement from Mr. Jeffries, who took the time to thank city employees for the work they put in cleaning up the area.
He also touched on an issue that took place during the last workshop, and verified that the board was in compliance on a vote that took place when a number of voting members were not present. Investigation was asked for, and Mr. Jeffries, with the help of a legal aide, confirmed that the voting reached, and was in line with, a quorum. He explained that a quorum is the minimum number of voting members needed to ensure that the voting is 100% legal, and as there were three out of five members present, the board was in compliance with the set rules.
Mayor Stanfield moved onto the resolutions of the 2018/2019 budget after the announcements. A motion was carried on the resolution on the amendments to the original budget, as well as the resolution on the government obligation contract dated as April 25, 2019, between Republic National Cooperation and City of LaFollette, Tennessee.
This turned the meeting to the fire department and the police department, who both wished to make changes in the positioning of some of their staff.
The fire department petitioned to promote Eric Sowanick, at a salary of $29,213.60, to a full time position, effective 05/11/2019. A motion was made from members, and was approved with unanimous agreement.
Likewise, the police department also wished to promote one of their staff, Darryl Chapman, from a part time position to a full one, at a salary of $32,580.00, effective 05/11/2019. This was also motioned, and approved with unanimous agreement.
In other ongoing plans, the board discussed the Safe Sidewalk grant, and stated that they are now waiting for the final approval from TDOT, after which construction will occur. Everything has been turned in and finalized in accordance to the grants, and after the approval is made, it will only take about six weeks thereafter for construction to begin. He also talked of waiting on approval from TDOT for the downtown grants, as well.
According to Jim Mullens, the street department manager in LaFollette, the Big Street Project/Cumberland Avenue is also awaiting the final approval of TDOT in order to begin construction.
The final business inquiry came at the end of the meeting, and discussed the drainage problem by the Corner Market, regarding how long it would take for construction to begin, and how much it would take of the budget, of which would depend on the of more details, such as pricing of pipes.
This successfully completed discussion on the agenda for the meeting, and without any further comments from citizens or members of the board, the meeting was adjourned. The next workshop is scheduled for the last Monday of May.

2019 Spring Practice Preview.

It’s that time Cougar fans. Spring sports are winding down as baseball, soccer, and softball have concluded their 2019 season. Cougar tennis has Blair Medley still alive in the district tournament. Track has a handful of sectional qualifiers that still have some post-season remaining. Those sports ending means another is ready to fire up practice. Cougar football begins it’s annual spring practice today with a number of questions that need to be answered between now and fall.

One of the hottest questions as we head into spring is will we see a player emerge as the next Cougar signal caller? Right now rising sophomore Joseph Paul and rising freshman Hunter White are the two candidates to lead the Campbell County offense in 2019. Can one of these two young men make the job their own in spring and clear up the ever important QB rotation before fall practice starts in the second half of July? In the past it was clearly going to be Tuffy Shoupe, Ethan Jeffers then locked down the job, after Jeffers, Zach Rutherford was the guy, last season Landon Addington left no doubt that he was the Cougar starter. This year the position sees two young guys vying for the spot. Both had some game experience last year at the varsity level, albeit under extreme circumstances after the Addington injury vs Gibbs. Both have logged many snaps in the very successful Cougar JV program. Both have put in a lot of off-season work over winter and early spring. We will see how that translates to each as they each get their shot to claim the starting quarterback spot.

“This is the first year where we’ve not known who the quarterback was going to be as we headed into spring. This will be our first true competition at the position.” said Cougar head coach Justin Price. “Both Hunter and Joseph have great strengths and both have areas where they need to improve. It’s our job as a staff to help each be the best player they can be. We will pick our quarterback the same way we pick every position on the field. The guy that gives the team the best chance to win football games will be who we go with. It’s going to be fun to watch them progress this spring and see which one gives our program the best chance at successfully executing our offense going forward.”

Either QB will also need protection and the Cougars lost some skilled players there with the departures of several key players to graduation. Gone are Tyler Hamblin, Brandon Dison, Jordan Tolliver, and Zack Phillips. Those guys were stalwarts up front the past few years. “This is probably our biggest rebuilding job on the line since we’ve been here.” noted Price. “We lost a lot of really good and experienced offensive linemen to graduation. Right now you can pencil in Chaz Duvernay in the trenches. He’s strong and knows how to do his job up front. We are looking at a group of talented but younger players to stand in there with Chaz. We have to get them to understand their position, gain confidence and maximize their talent in spring. They have all the potential in the world. We just have to turn that potential into production.” To aid the young players who will be moving into significant playing time up front this season, expect Javan McCulley, the great Cougar defensive lineman, to play as much as needed on the OL. “Javan understands his role on this football team, and he is a player that we have confidence in putting out there for every snap of the game on both sides of the ball if we need him out there.” said Price of his senior star lineman. The Cougars also enter spring looking to fill out the coaching staff possibly with an OL/DL coach. According to Coach Price, plans are in the works to get the spot settled as fall practice starts but for now duties will be handled by current staff members, with LB coach Chris Honeycutt being the guy who will work with the OL. Honeycutt handled most OL coaching duties last season and did an excellent job.

Injuries to Christian Shouse and Preston Bowman pushed a lot of young players to the forefront in the Cougar passing game. Devlin Dukes, while a junior, was a first year player but an every game starter who truly emerged late in the year, becoming the most consistent Cougar wide out. Sophomores Cahron Williams and MaKyle Shepherd were also in the starting lineup for games last year and both had impact at the position as sophomores. Also dynamic Jacksboro product Aaron Ellison made strides towards varsity as a freshman last fall. Price was confident about his group of receivers. “We expect these guys and a few others to really take it to the next level in spring as competitors. They got playing time last season because of some injuries to our veterans and we expect them to take that experience into spring. We think they will be playmakers out there for us.”

At running back the Cougars bring back Dale Wiseman as a speedy back who started often last season. The Cougars lose bruising back Drew Jordan who has scored over 30 touchdowns in the last two seasons and also set the Cougar single game rushing record last fall against Karns during a 330+ yard, 5 touchdown performance in a Cougar victory A player to keep an eye on is C.J. Allen. “C.J has so much potential at running back. He works very hard to continually improve and he has a chip on his shoulder. In his case it’s a little different. Instead of a guy out there trying to prove people wrong about him, C.J wants to prove people right. He was a great player in middle school and arrived here with high expectations. He and Dale are both very capable backs and we really want them to compete hard this spring.” Price said of his running backs.

On defense the Cougars lose Eric Hopper, Drew Jordan, Preston Bowman, Dylan Ball, Jordan Tolliver, and Christian Shouse, among others. The returnees are very talented with Javan McCulley having All-Region if not All-State potential on the defensive front. The Cougars will look to spring to see who will emerge to make all those tackles we saw out of Drew Jordan the last few years. Top candidates are Daymon Seiber and Michael Brown, both are experienced rising juniors with a nose for the football as well as some younger guys. Price was excited about spring with some of the linebacker prospects the Cougars will field. “We have a mix of very good players we will be looking at this year. Daymon Seiber has had a great off-season and has transformed his body by increasing his muscle mass. As a senior the game is going to slow down for him and we expect big plays out of him. We will also look at Desmond Gilbert to really step up this spring. He has a great frame and is extremely athletic. The game will come to him with experience. We have a good group with older and younger guys that are very athletic to evaluate this spring.”

At defensive back the Cougars will miss the big plays of the aforementioned Bowman and Shouse, but they return Anthony Gaylor as a senior leader along with Cahron Williams and MaKyle Shepherd. The concern, noted CCHS defensive backs coach Cody Seiber is the safety position. “We need to find some guys to play safety in spring. It’s a position that’s key to our defense. Our safety is the QB of our defense. He calls out the coverage, gets the guys in position and just carries a lot of responsibility in our defense. We are probably going to move Cahron to safety in spring and give him run there instead of corner. We are also going to give C.J Allen playing time there.”

Along the defensive line Javan McCulley and Chaz Duverney are amazingly strong players who will hopefully lock down two spots. Coach Price mentioned Wyatt Sharp, Brennan Byrge, and the immense freshman Jaden White as being prime guys who can make a move in spring to get into the rotation. “At the end of the day with these linemen we are looking for the best 5 on the offense and best 3 on the defense. These guys will all have a shot this spring to get it done and get pointed towards fall camp in the right direction.”

Overall spring is a time of evaluation and growth. Coaches look to see what progress has been made or lost since the end of the prior season. A full off-season in the weight room will transform many young players and for older players, knowing now is their time will kick them into the next gear. Coach Price noted three areas he wanted to evaluate in spring. “I want to see where we are mentally. How we respond to not making the playoffs last season. It was the first time in years we hadn’t made it. How hungry are the guys to get back out there and set it right. I also want to see kids out there competing and see how they react to the competition for positions. How do they respond if they aren’t getting the starters role they wanted? We need to see these guys mentality towards being ready to step in when called upon. After all the injuries last season we quickly saw how important the next guy up was to the team. Finally, I’ll be looking to find what this team’s identity will be this year. What will their core values be when the lights come on? We, as coaches have to find ways each year to hide weaknesses and emphasize the positives of the team. Spring will be the start of work for the team in 2019 as well as the staff.”

The Cougars will have 10 days of practice, two scrimmages, and the annual Orange and Blue game over the next 20 days. Those events will hopefully provide the staff with the clarity they need to hit fall camp wide open once the dead period ends in July.

Leach Finishes Second At HJGT Chattanooga Open

Jack Leach may still be a freshman in high school but the Cougar golfer continues to play at a level beyond his years. Over the weekend he traveled to the Scenic City of Chattanooga to compete in the Hurricane Junior Colf Tours Chattanooga Open.

Leach played very well in the event and placed second in a field that included some of the best junior golfers from Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. Leach finished the tournament 18 over par, Only fellow freshman Haden Maxwell of Soddy Daisy outpaced Leach with a 12 over par tournament.

The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour (HJGT) was founded in 2007 with the intention of providing junior golfers between the ages of 8-18 an opportunity to play exceptional courses in a competitive environment. The tour’s vision is to provide superb hospitality and make every event a memorable one. With play open to both males and females, nearly every junior golfer is eligible to participate on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour. Currently the HJGT is the largest junior golf tour in the United States hosting more 2-day nationally ranked events than any other tour. The HJGT has been able to achieve this goal by running the most professional events and providing an exceptional value to all of our players and families over the last 11 years.