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VOL. 44 | NO. 47 | Friday, November 20, 2020

Wellness Ambulatory Care bought by BHG

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Behavioral Health Group, a network of Joint Commission-accredited outpatient opioid treatment and recovery centers, has acquired Wellness Ambulatory Care of Knoxville.

Wellness employs 16 clinicians, counselors and staff.

The company will become known as BHG Medical Services, Knoxville.

BHG provides the full continuum of care for substance use disorders, and the merger with Wellness Ambulatory Care provides the clinical model of the future.

In Tennessee, the need is pressing. “In a 2018 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the state of Tennessee ranked 11th in states reporting past year opioid use disorder. That means some 56,000 Tennesseans were already aware that they had OUD, and another 120,000 adults reported needing but not receiving treatment for illicit drug use that same year,’’ says Jay Higham, BHG chief executive officer. “This is a growing epidemic and we need to act decisively to save our communities.

Wellness Ambulatory Care complements BHG in both staffing model and scope of services, prescribing both buprenorphine and naltrexone to patients with opioid use disorder. Patients also receive behavioral health and counseling services, as well as access to intensive outpatient programming designed to help stabilize more acute patients and lay the stage for their long-term recovery. In this office-based opioid treatment program model, medications are not dispensed on location; rather, patients are provided a prescription for take-home doses, a schedule that is especially well suited to patients in maintenance phases of recovery.

Sullivan overdose team receives grant

New federal funding coming to the state will continue a successful program in Sullivan County aimed at ending the cycle of drug overdose.

The Sullivan County Overdose Response Team will receive almost $900,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance to continue its work for the next three years.

SCORT is a collaboration between the Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition, area law enforcement agencies, and community behavioral health providers. The program is designed to connect with people after an overdose, prevent future overdoses and get them into treatment. SCORT began as a pilot project in October 2018, and since then, more than 93% of the people in the program have avoided another overdose, and 77% have enrolled in some form of substance use treatment.

With the new funding, SCORT will broaden outreach and self-referral capacity to expand engagement with people who need assistance with substance use recovery and overdose prevention. The staffing provided through the grant and the strength of existing working relationships will enable the team to expand to a two-year follow-up window with clients to provide a more solid foundation for lasting and sustainable recovery.

Kern’s Bakery project to close West Blount

West Blount Avenue, off Chapman Highway, will be closed for six weeks as work continues on the restoration of the historic Kern’s Bakery property in South Knoxville.

Kern’s Bakery, which has been vacant for almost a decade, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017. Following unsuccessful attempts by other developers to bring the property back into reuse, Mallory & Evans purchased the site in 2019.

West Blount will be closed between Chapman and Rocky Shore Lane as Jones Brothers Contractors crews build new stormwater infrastructure. Durable long-lasting pipes are being installed beneath Chapman Highway and West Blount Avenue that will carry runoff water from the Kern’s Bakery site east of Chapman downhill to the Tennessee River.

The infrastructure design manages stormwater runoff water by diverting it to the river, which for this location is better environmentally than trapping water on-site in retention ponds.

Flagship Kerns is a 310-bedroom apartment community scheduled to open next year on the property. Mallory & Evans Partners envisions the construction of the greenfield apartments, behind the 89-year-old landmark bakery, as a first step in redeveloping the 16-acre property into an innovative mixed-use community. The installation is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31.

Award reflects city’s financial strength

For the 34th consecutive year, the City of Knoxville’s Finance Department has been recognized for the transparency and clear communication of its annual financial reporting.

The Government Finance Officers Association has awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to the City’s Finance Department – specifically, lauding its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.

GFOA is a professional association that advances excellence in government finance by providing best practices, professional development and research for more than 21,000 members and the communities they serve.

GFOA touts the award as the “highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting,” adding that “its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.”

ORNL staffers donate $818,500 to charity

Oak Ridge National Laboratory employees have raised $818,500 for charitable causes including those associated with the ongoing pandemic.

ORNL responded to the virus crisis by revamping and expanding its community engagement program, which has resulted in boosting donations to more causes supported by the laboratory staff and by managing contractor UT-Battelle.

The Community Recovery Campaign had a 25% increase in employee giving to a slate of community causes determined by the staff members themselves. Total payroll deductions for charitable giving will rise 17.6% annually. The overall campaign — employee and UT-Battelle corporate contributions combined — came through to total $818,500.

The pandemic quarantine struck local nonprofit agencies with a double blow. The shutdown hit during a peak time for spring fundraising activities, which were virtually all canceled, while the impact on the economy amplified the need for their services, particularly social agencies and food pantries.

Eastman wins Tri-Star Champion Award

The 2020 Special Edition Pandemic Response Awards were recently announced at a virtual event sponsored by the Knoxville Chamber’s annual Environment & Energy Conference.

The conference culminated in the presentation of award for achievements of Tennessee companies in the categories of Innovative Retooling and Repurposing, Excellence in Operational Health and Safety, and Outstanding Community Stewardship.

In addition, the Tennessee Tri-Star Champion Award was presented to Eastman, based in Kingsport, for exemplary achievement in all three categories.

Other award winners and categories:

• Grace Medical – Innovative Retooling and Repurposing

• Cummins - Innovative Retooling and Repurposing

• Chattanooga Labeling Systems - Excellence in Operational Health and Safety

• Kellogg - Excellence in Operational Health and Safety

• Tennessee American Water - Outstanding Community Stewardship

• BASF Corporation – Outstanding Community Stewardship

• Eastman – Tri-Star Champion

Special recognition was also given to:

• Bath Fitter Manufacturing - Excellence in Operational Health and Safety

• Duracell Corporation - Excellence in Operational Health and Safety

• Cummins Filtration - Excellence in Operational Health and Safety

• Blount Partnership - Outstanding Community Stewardship

• Greater Memphis Chamber - Outstanding Community Stewardship

• DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc. - Outstanding Community Stewardship, Excellence in Operational Health and Safety

• Jack Daniel’s Distillery - Outstanding Community Stewardship

Historic venue opens up for small weddings

The Tennessee Theatre, for the first time in several years, is again hosting weddings as a result of the pandemic.

The theater remains mostly closed due to lack of touring activity.

Many couples are reimagining their wedding days during the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for options offering unique and romantic settings for elopements or intimate ceremonies.

The budget-friendly packages are designed for small, simply, low-key affairs – surrounded by a few close friends or family and with the opulence of the Tennessee Theatre as a backdrop for vows. Packages (outlined in detail at include:

• Get Hitched – $500 – 1.5 hours and 6 participants/attendees total

• Tie the Knot – $1,500 – 2.5 hours and 12 participants/attendees total

• Take the Plunge – $2,000 – three hours and 24 participants/attendees total

County residents smash old voting record

Knox County residents went to the polls in record numbers in the 2020 presidential race, totaling 221,492 voters and obliterating the old record of 32,582 set in 2008.

“We were successful because of our poll workers,” says Chris Davis, Knox County’s elections administrator. “All they have to learn and deal with - they do an amazing job. They’re fantastic.”

Precincts vary in size and density of families, and precincts inside the city limits generally have fewer residents than those outside the city.

Here are the Top 10 precincts, in terms of ballots cast:

• Farragut Middle School - 7,446

• Halls High School - 7,346

• Farragut High School - 7,121

• Farragut Town Hall - 5,810

• Powell High School - 5,669

• Westland Drive, Shoreline Church - 5,647

• Gibbs Elementary School - 5,200

• Rocky Hill Elementary School - 5,150

• Bearden High School - 4,921

• Karns Middle School - 4,915

Drive-In at the Midway celebrates holidays

The City of Knoxville and the Knox County Public Library present Drive-In at the Midway Holiday Edition with free movie screenings at Chilhowee Park.

The showing Friday, Nov. 20, is “Elf,’’ followed Friday, Dec. 4, by “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (PG-13, 1989)

Admission is free, but attendees must pre-register at

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