By Dave Ongie, News Editor
The 51st annual Johnson City Area Home and Outdoor Show once again provided folks from around the region with an opportunity to file into the MiniDome and experience a one-stop-shop for all the latest trends in the realm of home repair, construction and landscaping.
The event also presented dozens of local high school students with the opportunity to compete in the third annual Battle of the Build, which welcomed Eastman Credit Union on board as a title sponsor this year. The event culminated with an awards ceremony on Sunday that saw a few local schools take home money that will help defray travel costs as they compete in SkillsUSA competitions this spring.
David Isaacs, the president of the JCAHBA, described the competition as a “grassroots workforce-development effort,” and that effort continues to grow by leaps and bounds as new schools enter the competition each year. Isaacs is hopeful the event will open the eyes of the students who compete in the event to the opportunities available to those who choose to work in the trades.
“I think we all agree we need some good tradespeople in this world,” Isaacs said. “As an association, we see this need, and we’re doing this event purely to try to get our students to use their hands to build something and to connect them with people in our association and the trades to try to develop mentorships.”
The field had 10 teams this year with Unicoi County, Johnson County, Chuckey-Doak, Science Hill, Daniel Boone, Sullivan East, Sullivan Central, Tennessee High and a team comprised of the high schools from Carter County all vying for the awards. Each team delivered a creative, well-crafted entry into the competition.
The panel of judges chose Carter County’s project as the first-place entry. Carter County also won the Popular Vote, which was comprised of ballots and “likes” on social media.
Chuckey-Doak took home second place, but also won the Chariman’s Choice Award that was determined by Chuck Fowke, the first vice-chair of the National Association of Home Builders.
Johnson County’s project won third place.
Isaacs said the Battle of the Build never has a theme because it allows the teams to be creative and takes into account that all the schools offer different programs. The first three years have yielded some amazing work, and Isaacs is excited to see what the teams come up with next year and beyond.
“It’s a little bit hard to judge it that way, but I think if you look around, you’ll see the end result are some pretty cool projects that I could have never dreamed of,” he said.