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Hikers are being told to postpone plans to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail this year due to COVID-19. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy made the suggestion because it feels the pandemic makes long-distance hikes unsafe.Morgan Sommerville, regional director for the conservancy, says that as long as the pandemic continues, while vaccines aren’t widely available and there’s been no all-clear signs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the conservancy is recommending against long-distance hikes on the trail.The Appalachian Trail runs through 14 states from Georgia to Maine and covers 2,193 miles, including through the middle of Tennessee.

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Dollywood is mourning the passing of Randy Parton, 67.Parton, a singer and songwriter who was the younger brother to Dolly Parton, performed at the park for more than 30 years. A prepared statment says Randy Huston Parton, 67, iconic performer and creative leader at Dollywood, has lost his long battle with cancer. Rather than flowers, Parton is asking for donations to be made to the Imagination library at ImagnationLibrary.com.

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The Sullivan County District Attorney General’s office stated Friday in court that they would be seeking a sentence of life imprisonment without parole should Megan Boswell be found guilty in the death of her daughter, Evelyn.The district attorney’s office will not seek the death penalty against Megan Boswell.Megan Boswell, has been charged with two counts of felony murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, and other charges.She has pleaded not guilty to all 19 of the charges she faces.District Attorney General Barry Staubus made the announcement in court Friday morning.According to court documents, the state is seeking the sentence due to the fact that Evelyn was a person less than 12 years of age and Megan is a defendant over the age of 18.

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Dickenson County Public Schools have announced changes to their learning model, starting Monday, January 25.According to a post from DCPS, students in both Cohorts A and B will return to four days of in-person instruction on Monday.Friday is scheduled to be a virtual/small group instruction day with deep-cleaning and sanitation occuring.Anyone with questions can call 276-926-4643.

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Tennessee’s health departments and partners have plenty of infrastructure ready to deliver many more COVID vaccinations to an anxious public, Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey said in a conference call Friday. The problem is continued supply constraints from the federal government.“There are some really big levers we have that we can pull quickly, as in like a day or two, and those are those big mass vaccination sites that can be staffed,” Piercey said.On a day the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) rolled out several changes to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, Piercey repeatedly stressed the limitations to enactment of those changes until the state’s weekly supply increases.

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Tennessee housing officials say the state will receive about $458 million in federal COVID-19 money for rent relief.The Tennessee Housing Development Agency says it is setting up a web portal and call center and preparing staff to review and process thousands of payments to landlords and utility providers.The agency says it anticipates that it will take at least eight weeks to be able to give out the money. Additional federal guidance is expected later this month.

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Officials with Publix said the new store in Johnson City is now hiring.According to store officials, they are hiring “in all departments including bakery, customer service, deli, grocery, meat, seafood, and produce.”The store is under construction at 509 N. State of Franklin Road.Publix officials told news outlets the Johnson City store should be open before the end of 2021.The former building was home to a Food City grocery store.

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On Wednesday afternoon, some of the most anticipated words that an elementary school student’s parent wanted to hear came to pass as Elizabethton City Schools Director Richard VanHuss announced that beginning on Monday, January 25th that all elementary students in grades Pre-K through fifth grade will return to school for four days – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.This was the same schedule the students were attending before Christmas break. Wednesday will remain a virtual day for all students.Students that attend T.A. Dugger and Elizabethton High School in grades 6-12 will stay on a hybrid schedule at this time.

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East Tennessee State University students can begin picking up their free tickets for men’s and women’s basketball games starting Thursday, January 21.According to a release from ETSU Athletics, students with a valid ETSU ID can collect their tickets at the DP Culp Carrier Center in Room 211.Students can get free tickets to the next four games taking place through Wednesday, January 27.ETSU women’s basketball team is scheduled to take on UNC-Greensboro in a home series on Friday and Sunday.The men’s team will host Furman on Saturday and UT-Chattanooga on Wednesday.

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As a transition of power is taking place in the White House Republican U.S. Senators from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, took to Twitter on Inauguration Day promising to fight against the “socialist agenda.”In an inauguration unlike any other in our country’s history, a transition of power is taking place between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. Biden is now sworn in as the 46th President of the United States

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