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Two Dobyns-Bennett High School students in final round of Presidential Scholarship Program

KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett High School seniors Caleb Buell and Ryan Herzog have been named among 625 semifinalists in the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

They are competing with top high school students nominated across the country. Caleb Buell is the son of Gregory and Audra Buell, and Ryan Herzog is the son of Jeff and Shelly Herzog.

“Congratulations to both Caleb and Ryan, who have worked incredibly hard for this individual honor,” said Dr. Chris Hampton, Dobyns-Bennett principal.

“This is also a significant honor for our community to be able to boast two of the 13 semifinalists for the entire state of Tennessee are from Dobyns-Bennett; for what is widely recognized as the most prestigious honor a high school senior can earn. Dobyns-Bennett is fortunate to have had three former students win the Presidential Scholarship, with the last being in 2007. I wish both young men the absolute best as they move forward and on behalf of our school, I thank them for representing us with great class, character and integrity.”

From nearly 3.6 million graduating high school seniors, more than 6,500 students were identified as candidates in the program, and 625 semifinalists have been selected from across the country.

These semifinalists form the pool from which the 2021 scholars will be chosen.

Established in 1964 by executive order of the president, the program recognizes and honors the nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors for their accomplishments in academic success, leadership, and service to school and community.

In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrated exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts.

In 2015, the program was expanded once again to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical fields.

Annually, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

Application is by invitation only. Students are invited to apply based on their scores on the SAT or ACT exam or their nomination by a Chief State School Officer, the year of their graduation from high school and whether they are U.S. citizens or legal permanent U.S. residents.

Students who qualify will automatically receive applications. Applicants are narrowed to 600 semifinalists and then ultimately determined to be a recipient or not. Important milestones for remaining steps of the selection process include nominees completing the national Presidential Scholars application (February), semi-finalists being announced (April), and national winners being announced (May).

Students chosen as scholars receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in June for National Recognition Weekend, which features various events and enrichment activities and culminates in the presentation of the Presidential Scholars Medallion during a White House-sponsored ceremony.

During their visit, scholars have access to important national and international figures, including government officials, educators, authors, musicians, scientists and other accomplished people.

For more information about the Presidential Scholars program, contact the Dobyns-Bennett High School Counseling Office at (423) 378-8409 or go online to www.ed.gov/psp.

Restrictions easing in US and Europe amid disaster in India

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Air travel in the U.S. hit its highest mark since COVID-19 took hold more than 13 months ago, while European Union officials are proposing to ease restrictions on visitors to the continent as the vaccine sends new cases and deaths tumbling in more affluent countries.

The improving picture in many places contrasts with the worsening disaster in India.

In the U.S., the average number of new cases per day fell below 50,000 for the first time since October. And nearly 1.67 million people were screened at U.S. airport checkpoints on Sunday, according to the Transportation Security Administration, the highest number since mid-March of last year.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation giving him sweeping powers to invalidate local emergency measures put in place during the outbreak. While the law doesn’t go into effect until July, the Republican governor said he will issue an executive order to more quickly get rid of local mask mandates.

“I think this creates a structure that’s going to be a little bit more respectful, I think, of people’s businesses, jobs, schools and personal freedom,” he said.

Las Vegas is bustling again after casino capacity limits were raised Saturday to 80% and person-to-person distancing was dropped to 3 feet. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York City’s subways will begin running all night again and capacity restrictions on most businesses will end statewide in mid-May. And Los Angeles County reported no coronavirus deaths on Sunday and Monday, some of which may be attributable to a lag in reporting but was nevertheless a hopeful sign that could move the county to allow an increase in capacity at events and venues — and indoor-service at bars.

EU officials also announced a proposal Monday to relax restrictions on travel to the 27-nation bloc this summer, though the final decision is up to its member countries.

“Time to revive EU tourism industry and for cross-border friendships to rekindle — safely,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “We propose to welcome again vaccinated visitors and those from countries with a good health situation.”

In Greece, restaurants and cafes reopened their terraces on Monday after six months of shutdown, with customers flocking to soak up the sunshine. In France, high schools reopened and a ban on domestic travel was lifted.

The once hard-hit Czech Republic, where cases are now declining, announced it will allow people to remove face coverings at all outdoor spaces starting next Monday if they keep their distance from others.

But with more-contagious variants taking hold in the U.S, efforts are underway to boost vaccination efforts, which have begun to lag. The average number of doses given per day fell 27% from a high of 3.26 million on April 11 to 2.37 million last Tuesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Detroit, teams from the city’s health department have knocked on nearly 5,000 doors since the weekend to persuade people to get immunized. And Massachusetts’ governor announced plans to close four of seven mass vaccination sites by the end of June in favor of a more targeted approach.

“My plea to everyone: Get vaccinated now, please,” President Joe Biden said in Norfolk, Virginia. He stressed that he has worked hard to make sure there are more than 600 million doses of vaccine — enough for all Americans to get both doses.

“We’re going to increase that number across the board as well so we can also be helping other nations once we take care of all Americans,” the president said.

Brazil, once the epicenter of the pandemic, has been overtaken by a surge in India that has overrun crematoriums and made it clear the pandemic is far from over.

As the United States and other countries rushed in aid, India reported nearly 370,000 new cases and more than 3,400 deaths on Monday — numbers that experts believe are vast undercounts because of a widespread lack of testing and incomplete reporting.

In Germany, Bavarian officials canceled Oktoberfest for a second year in a row because of the safety risks. The beer-drinking festivities typically attract about 6 million visitors from around the world.

And in Italy, medical experts and politicians expressed concern about a possible spike in infections after tens of thousands of jubilant soccer fans converged on Milan’s main square Sunday to celebrate Inter Milan’s league title.

Hawkins shooting suspect indicted on second-degree murder charge

ROGERSVILLE — A Hawkins County man accused in the Dec. 30, 2020, shooting of a family friend who lived in his home was served Sunday with a sealed Hawkins County grand jury indictment on a charge of second-degree murder.

Nathan Kendrick Lane, 35, of Rogersville has been held in the Hawkins County Jail since the night of the shooting. His bond is set at $500,000 pending his arraignment in Hawkins County Criminal Court, which is set for June 11.

Sheriff Ronnie Lawson told the Times News on Monday that the victim, Jordan Ridge Pilcher, 26, lived in the same residence as Lane, and was the father of Lane’s sister’s child.

Lawson said no other information about a possible motive for the shooting can be released at this time.

On Dec. 30 at 6:24 p.m., the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of shots fired at the Lane residence on Burem Road near Rogersville.

While en route, deputies were notified by Central Dispatch that Pilcher had been shot by Lane, and that Lane was still in the residence.

Upon arrival, Sgt. Sam Wilhoit and Deputy Bryan Sanders gave verbal commands for everyone inside to exit the house.

Lane was the first to exit and was detained, and he was followed by two witnesses.

According to reports, upon entering the residence Sanders and Wilhoit observed Pilcher lying unresponsive on the floor of a bedroom and suffering from an apparent gunshot wound.

CPR was administered by the HCSO until Hawkins County EMS arrived on the scene and took over.

A Remington 30-06 rifle was found on the bed in Lane’s bedroom and was determined to be the murder weapon.

More grand jury sealed indictments

The Hawkins County grand jury met on April 19 and handed down several other sealed indictments that will be arraigned on June 11, including:

Joshua Ray Alexander, 36, 100 Etter St., Rogersville, possession of meth with intent to deliver, and delivery of meth.

Joshua Ray Alexander

Shannon Dale Herron, 39, 114 Henderson St., Surgoinsville, possession of contraband (meth) in a penal facility.

Shannon Dale Herron

Brandon Justin Crabtree, 30, 1043 Overhill Road, Rogersville, two counts of possession of meth with intent to deliver, delivery of meth and possession of meth with intent to deliver in violation of the Drug Free School Zone Act.

Brandon Justin Crabtree

Nathan Paul Wilmoth, 35, 1749 Harris St., Kingsport, possession of meth with intent to deliver and delivery of meth.

Nathan Paul Wilmoth

Travis Blake Beck, 33, 519 Clay Road, Rogersville, three counts of possession of meth with intent to deliver and delivery of meth.

Travis Blake Beck

Other April 19 indictments

Other Hawkins County grand jury indictments handed down on April 19 and arraigned this past Friday included:

Jody Lee Horner, 27, 126 Davis Drive, Rogersville, theft under $1,000, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, promotion of meth manufacturing, maintaining a dwelling where narcotics are kept or sold, simple possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Jody Lee Horner


Joshua Lee Worley, 39, 183 Housewright Hollow Road, Surgoinsville, possession of meth for delivery and violation of the Drug Free School Zone Act.

Joshua Lee Worley

David Charles Gatewood, 56, 106 Builders Lane, Rogersville, possession of meth for delivery, violation of the Drug Free School Zone Act, driving while in possession of meth and driving on a revoked license third offense.

David Charles Gatewood

Caleb Andres Byrd, 24, 173 Whitaker Road, Bulls Gap, aggravated criminal trespass, unlawful carrying of a firearm and driving on a revoked license.

Caleb Andres Byrd


Joshua Anthony Lane, 28, 131 Greer-Johnson Road, Surgoinsville, theft over $1,000.

Joshua Anthony Lane

Tina Reese Collins, 55, 327 Wyatt Village Road, Bean Station, DUI fourth offense, driving on a revoked license third offense, open container, failure to maintain lane, registration violation, no insurance and violation of the implied consent law.

Tina Reese Collins

Joseph Earl Engwiller, 38, 1265 Lloyd’s Chapel Road, Mount Carmel, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a prohibited weapon, possession of a firearm with an altered serial number, theft under $1,000 and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Joseph Earl Engwiller

Dylan Gregory Herron, 18, 132 Pine St., Church Hill, aggravated burglary, theft under $1,000 and simple assault.

Dylan Gregory Herron

Nearly 100 volunteers armed with gloves and sanitizer, rakes and shovels spent the better part of a day on Saturday cleaning up the Darrell’s …

The Hawkins County Sheriff's Office continues to investigated a massive fire that destroyed three car haulers and five cars late Thursday night, although Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said Monday the cause appears to be mechanical.