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Five honored with Citizen Medals by EHS American History Class

Five Carter County residents were recognized for their selfless giving to others during the Carter County Citizens Medal ceremony Tuesday night.
The first ever recipients of the CCCM are Dean Blevins, Kelly Geagley, Lance Cpl. Nathan Morrow, Angie Odom and Chad Tipton.
Students in a special topics in American history course at Elizabethton High School taught by Alex Campbell collected applications and selected the recipients of the CCCM after starting the project while studying the Medal of Honor and past recipients of that medal.
Blevins is the “Flag Man,” who sets out flags in downtown Elizabethton, and at other city businesses on certain holidays throughout the year. Blevins took over the flag program in the 1990s after a community group decided to end it.
Blevins, like all the other winners, said he was surprised to be a recipient of the CCCM. He said he hoped the recognition would draw more attention to the flag program, which in turn helps many special needs students in the county’s schools.
“Hopefully this will help us do more for them,” Blevins said. “All the money raised by the flag program goes back to those students.”
Blevins commended the students for the work they put into the ceremony to recognize local heroes, and Campbell for letting the students pursue the ceremony.
“If my teachers had used innovative methods like this, I probably would have learned a little more,” Blevins said. “The students did a lot of work to do this.”
Geagley is the founder and organizer of Team Wandell in support of East Side Elementary Principal Josh Wandell, who was diagnosed with ALS. Geagley, who is Wandell’s uncle, is also the director of the Elizabethton Housing and Development Agency.
“It was an honor to be selected,” Geagley said. “I love it because it was the students who did this. They came up with the project and picked the winners. It makes it special. It is something you don’t hear about students getting to do very often.”
Morrow served in the Iraq War and is also a counselor at Doe River Gorge. He was a junior at East Tennessee State University when his Marine reserve unit was mobilized to Iraq. He is now a firefighter with the Johnson City Fire Department and volunteers at Doe River Gorge in the summer.
Morrow said it was hard to have the extra attention brought from the Citizens Medal recognition.
“I am glad that people are noticing but it is hard to put myself on a pedestal like this,” Morrow said. “I am glad seeing there was a difference made by my service.”
Odom is the founder and director of the Abortion Alternatives and Women’s Center and TLC Community Center. The center runs the Summer Food Program, which served more than 48,000 meals to Carter County children last summer through its 9-week program.
“I am not used to this side of things,” Odom said. “There are so many volunteers who do the work. I am the hands and feet that get it together. I hope this gets students more involved in the community, and in the food program. If this continues, they will learn more about their communities.”
Tipton saved his 10-year-old neighbor from a wounded bear during a hunting trip. Tipton and his neighbor were hunting on Holston Mountain when a wounded bear charged at the pair. Tipton put himself between the bear and the child and fought the bear off to keep it from injuring them.
“That was just my first reaction, to not let the bear get him,” Tipton said. “I hit the bear with the gun. There was not enough time to reload before he came at us.”
Silver Star recipient Clebe McClary was the keynote speaker for the ceremony.
Campbell said the students had worked very hard to make sure the ceremony was a success. He said he had heard from the public that many would like for the ceremony to be a regular event, but he noted that would be up to the students in the special topics class.
“If the students want to do it again, I will support them,” Campbell said. “I do not force them to do any of the projects. If they want to do it, then great. This was long overdue so if they want to do it again, we will.”