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VOL. 43 | NO. 47 | Friday, November 22, 2019

Knoxville earns Green Leadership City award

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Knoxville has been recognized as the 2019 Green Leadership City, awarded by the Propane Education & Research Council to one government agency in the U.S. each year.

The Propane Council is a Washington, D.C.-based national non-profit organization.

Knoxville was recognized specifically for its adoption of clean, propane-powered mowers, among other environmentally friendly programs that support the city’s sustainability and emissions-reduction goals.

Outgoing mayor Madeline Rogero accepted a $5,000 donation from PERC during at a recent celebration at Suttree Landing Park with city officials and Public Service Department employees, who operate the propane mowers regularly.

The donation will benefit Knoxville’s CAC Beardsley Community Farm, a non-profit based in Knoxville’s Malcolm Martin Park, which is dedicated to promoting food security and sustainable agriculture.

“The Green Leadership City Award is given to one community nationwide every year in recognition of a commitment to environmentally-friendly and sustainable practices,” says Jeremy Wishart, director of off-road business development for PERC. “Over the past few years, the city of Knoxville has worked to demonstrate environmental stewardship in its community by maintaining the city’s greenspaces with propane mowers – and we want to thank them for that.”

Gender-neutral parental leave added by Pilot

Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J has added a gender-neutral parental leave element to its benefit package.

Effective Sept. 1, the benefit provides 100% paid parental leave for six weeks to all team members, both full- and part-time, who have at least one year of service and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months.

“As a family-owned business that is one of the country’s largest private companies, it is critical that we support our team members with growing families,” says Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J. “We recognize the importance of focusing on your family’s well-being and that welcoming a new family member can be an exciting and stressful time. We strongly believe that paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers is a much-needed benefit, especially for hourly workers in the retail and convenience store industries and we are proud to provide this benefit to our team members.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of March 2018, only 17% of all civilian workers had access to paid family leave.

In the retail industry, where many employees are part-time and hourly, this number is even lower at 7%. In addition, 7 in 10 fathers in the U.S. that took parental leave only used 10 days of leave or less.

ORNL joins national power grid projects

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers will lead two new projects and support seven more to enhance the reliability and resilience of the nation’s power grid.

The projects are part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2019 Grid Modernization Lab Call.

DOE announced funding of approximately $80 million over three years to fund 23 projects across the country. ORNL is expected to receive approximately $10 million of available funding to support the nine projects on which it collaborates.

The research brings together scientists from DOE’s national labs with industry and university partners to develop efficient, cost-effective solutions to harden the grid against disruption and to make it more resilient when events occur.

ORNL will lead two projects. In the first, the Multi-Port Modular Medium-Voltage Transactive Power Electronics Energy Hub, researchers will design and develop medium-voltage power electronics hardware and software to enable the integration of the growing volume of intermittent, renewable energy sources into the grid while ensuring the smooth flow of electricity.

The second, Vulnerability of Power Generation Critical Systems Against Electromagnetic Threats, will experimentally evaluate the physical security of power generation plants against electromagnetic threats.

Alliance supports Jackson Avenue businesses

The Downtown Knoxville Alliance wants residents to know that businesses affected by the Jackson Avenue ramp and Broadway viaduct closures will remain open and accessible.

The cobblestone Jackson Avenue ramps and adjacent sidewalk closed Sept. 16. The $8.2 million project managed by the city includes removal and restoration of the cobblestones and is expected to take about a year. Built in 1919-20 to connect to the Gay Street viaduct, the ramps are 100 years old and structurally deficient. The original cobblestone bricks will be incorporated into the new ramps.

The Alliance has designed a 750-foot screen that helps direct pedestrians to businesses along Jackson Avenue.

The organization is also placing eye-catching signage to help drivers and pedestrians easily find alternate routes and has designed a 750-foot chain link fence screen to cover the length of the Jackson Avenue construction site. The screen includes life-sized icons to create a fun and selfie-friendly backdrop for people walking by the site.

Parking signage will assist drivers, who can access Jackson Avenue west of Gay Street from Broadway Avenue and east of Gay Street via Central or State streets. With the closure of the Broadway viaduct, drivers can easily access the businesses in Broadway/Jackson area via Henley Street or Summit Hill Drive.

Sidewalk directionals show pedestrians how to access Jackson Avenue from the Gay Street and Jackson Avenue stairwell, which is well-lit and features the colorful “Stories” mural. An east-west pedestrian walkway will remain open under Gay Street. Sidewalks on Gay Street, the rest of Jackson Avenue and throughout the Old City also will remain open.

South College to offer surgical tech program

South College is launching a surgical technology program at its Knoxville campus.

Enrollment is open now for students to join the first cohort, which will begin Jan. 15.

“In order to offer career-focused education, we must stay aware of the job needs in the markets we serve,” South College Chancellor Steve South says. “There is a national shortage of surgical technologists, and the demand for jobs is particularly high in Knoxville. This Surgical Technology program will help our community by fulfilling job demand at local health systems with career-ready employees. We look forward to classes getting underway in January.”

In December, construction will commence on a new lab featuring the latest technology, providing students the ability to use the same equipment in a learning environment that they would encounter in a hospital or surgery clinic. Part of the 18-month Associate of Science program also includes clinical rotations at local health systems to gain applied experience.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job outlook nationwide for careers in surgical technology will grow faster than average at 9% in 2018-28. Median pay is $47,300 per year.

Ornament fund to preserve Sunsphere

Visit Knoxville has announced a partnership with Guinn and Derek Boyce to present a first-ever, hand-crafted glass ornament of the Sunsphere.

The Boyces commissioned the ornament from Joy to the World Collectibles, a Knoxville-based company. Each ornament is meticulously crafted by hand by European artisans.

Ornaments will be available for purchase at the Knoxville Visitors Center located at 301 S. Gay Street and online at Cost of the ornament is $55 plus tax. Five dollars from the purchase of each ornament will go to the Sunsphere Fund, a fund created by Visit Knoxville, with the City’s support, to help preserve and maintain this beloved city icon.

Only 500 Sunsphere ornaments will be available before Christmas 2019. Additional ornaments will be available for purchase in January 2020.

Townsend’s Big Meadow wins RV parks honor

The Big Meadow Family Campground in Townsend has won the prestigious National Park of the Year Award (under 100 sites category) from the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

This is the second time this park has received this distinction.

Big Meadow is open year around and hosts many groups and events. They also support Great Smoky Mountain heritage, arts and crafts events annually.

Foothills Church garners design awards

Two East Tennessee companies have been honored for church design.

Maryville-based commercial construction firm Leon Williams Contractors and Knoxville architecture and design firm Studio Four Design have been recognized for building and operations on the Foothills Church of Maryville.

The new Foothills Church campus includes a 1,200-seat auditorium and numerous intentional ministry spaces that can accommodate both large and small gatherings and host its regular Sunday morning worship experience. An open-concept atrium also allows for a relaxed and intimate space.

Oak Ridge wins award for partnerships

Oak Ridge has been recognized as a recipient of the organization’s Community Partnership Award for 2019 by the International City/County Management Association.

The award recognizes innovative programs or processes between and/or among a local government and other governmental entities, private sector businesses, individuals, or nonprofit agencies to improve the quality of life for residents or provide more efficient and effective services.

The award highlighted the successful intergovernmental partnership that led to the American Museum of Science and Energy opening in a new centrally located space in Main Street Oak Ridge.

Orthopedic surgery center set for Cherokee

The University of Tennessee Medical Center and OrthoTennessee plan to open a freestanding orthopedic ambulatory surgery center in Knoxville at UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm.

The University Orthopedic Surgeons will be included in the projects.

The organizations recently submitted an application to the Health Services Development Agency of the Tennessee Department of Health for a Certificate of Need to create the surgery center.

The proposal calls for an 81,000-square-foot three-story building to be built on the research park, which is across Alcoa Highway from the main UT Medical Center campus. The first floor of the proposed center will serve as the ambulatory surgery center. The second and third floors will house physical therapy and medical and administration offices.

There will also be dedicated space for orthopedic and other medical research through the medical center’s UT Advanced Orthopaedic Institute.

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