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VOL. 45 | NO. 3 | Friday, January 15, 2021

TeamHealth, Covenant distribute vaccines

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Knoxville-based TeamHealth is partnering with Covenant Health, the Knoxville region’s largest health system, to ensure emergency medical clinicians across the area are among the front-line health care workers receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nationally, TeamHealth has approximately 16,000 clinicians delivering care in a variety of hospital-based, post-acute and ambulatory sites of care, 230 of whom staff nine Covenant Health acute-care hospitals across East Tennessee. Through the collaborative efforts of both companies, TeamHealth clinicians are already receiving the vaccine each day.

TeamHealth’s Emerging Infectious Disease Task Force examined both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna data released by the Food and Drug Administration and reached a unanimous conclusion in support of both vaccines, believing both to be highly effective and recommending it be administered to adults, including TeamHealth clinicians, unless clear contraindications exist.

Study suggests signals, sidewalks for Burlington

The City of Knoxville’s plans to improve the Y-shaped configuration where Magnolia Avenue near Prosser Road splits into Rutledge Pike and Asheville Highway may have a resolution.

After years of considering possible fixes to the problematic interchange in East Knoxville, neighborhood stakeholders, City officials and TDOT officials say signalized intersections with wide sidewalks would serve Burlington neighborhood families better than a multilane roundabout.

The engineering consultant, Gresham Smith and Partners, presented a conceptual plan to neighborhood groups and stakeholders via an online community workshop. The plan included recommendations to improve the nearly 60-year-old state interchange.

The study, which identifies recommendations for short- and long-term improvements to the interchange, has not yet been finalized. Additional feedback is being sought.

The current interchange has been criticized by some stakeholders because it limits turning movements by motorists. Those traveling southbound on Rutledge Pike trying to go east on Asheville Highway have to make a U-turn at Prosser Road or cut through small residential streets. Another problem is that the existing interchange is sprawling and can’t be safely crossed by pedestrians or bicyclists.

The goal in redesigning the interchange is to build a community-desired connection to the Burlington commercial district. The current interchange creates a physical barrier that bisects the area, when the objective should be to complement the surrounding urban, walkable neighborhoods and connect them.

Being state highways, input from the Tennessee Department of Transportation was sought. The City supports a recommendation for a traditional signalized intersection, rather than a roundabout, for multiple reasons:

• A signalized intersection offers safer crossings for pedestrians and bicyclists

• Less land would be taken out of use by redoing the intersection, as compared to the land needed to build a large roundabout

• The intersection design offers opportunities for additional bus routes and stops

• The signalized intersection offers better connectivity to the Burlington commercial district

• Building the intersection design would cost an estimated $10.3 million, whereas the roundabout is expected to cost $12.2 million

The preferred design also would preserve more green space while providing a direct link to Holston Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, according to City traffic engineers and Gresham Smith. The plan envisions 10-foot shared-use paths for pedestrians and bicyclists on both sides of roadways around the intersection.

U-Haul names state, Knoxville in growth stats

Tennessee is the No. 1 growth state in the U.S., according to a study by U-Haul, having posted the largest net gain of the company’s trucks crossing its borders in 2020.

It is the first time the state has ranked at the top of the list.

East and Middle Tennessee are enjoying the biggest gains in U-Haul arrivals. The top growth cities include Knoxville, the Tri-Cities, Cookeville, Clarksville, Cleveland, Murfreesboro and Maryville.

Growth states are calculated by the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a state versus leaving that state in a calendar year. Migration trends data is compiled from more than 2 million one-way U-Haul truck customer transactions that occur annually.

Mayors dedicate COVID memorial

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs recently held a ceremony unveiling a COVID-19 memorial on the front lawn of the City County Building.

The living memorial at 400 Main Street consists of a white flag for each person who has died from COVID-19 in Knox County.

“We must honor those who have died and let families know that they are not alone,” Mayor Indya Kincannon said. “So many people in our community are experiencing loss because of the pandemic, but no loss is greater than the passing of a loved one.”

“COVID-19 has taken friends, families and neighbors from us and has altered thousands of other lives in our community in one way or another as well,” Mayor Jacobs said. “Many are facing real grief and we want to show them that their loved ones are not forgotten and that they’re not just a number. Together, let us mourn these losses and work to stop more in the future.”

In line with COVID-19 safety protocols, the ceremony consisted only of the two Mayors, Michael Rodgers from Knoxville Opera, who sang, and necessary staff.

The number of white flags will be updated weekly.

Knoxville will haul away Christmas tree

Knoxville city residents who wish to dispose of a Christmas tree should remove lights and decorations, then place it at the street for collection.

Public Service Department crews pick up discarded holiday greenery, just like they pick up brush left on the streetside.

Christmas trees, like leaves and other brush, are delivered to Living Earth, where they are mulched and composted with other organic material into various yard products that the company markets and sells. Each year, Living Earth provides up to 1,000 cubic yards of hardwood mulch and 200 cubic yards of playground mulch to the City that City horticulture crews use to landscape public beds and parks.

Note that Public Service Department crews are concentrating on leaf collection this time of year, so brush – including discarded Christmas trees – is not collected on the regular two-week schedule followed during most of the year.

If you want that tree gone right away, city residents can also take advantage of Knox County’s Tree-Cycling program. There is no fee to those willing to haul their unwanted Christmas trees to any Knox County convenience center throughout January. As with curbside pickup, the trees taken to a Knox County convenience center are likewise mulched and diverted from the landfill.

WBIR station affiliation agreement renewed

TEGNA Inc. and NBC have announced a comprehensive, multiyear deal that renews station affiliation agreements for 20 TEGNA markets nationwide, including WBIR in Knoxville.

The 20 markets renewed cover 17% of the U.S. audience and nearly 21 million households. TEGNA is the largest independent owner of NBC affiliates.

“As the largest NBC affiliate group among independent station groups, we are proud of our longstanding partnership that serves our communities,” says Dave Lougee, president and CEO, TEGNA.

ChoiceSpine reaches implantation milestone

ChoiceSpine LLC, a privately held spinal device manufacturer based in Knoxville, has announced 3,000 implantations of their innovative 3D Printed Tiger Shark interbody family.

Tiger Shark is a 3D manufactured titanium alloy interbody created with a proprietary organic porous structure called BioBond.

3D-Printed porous titanium Tiger Shark implants are radiolucent allowing for porosity and surface roughness designed into the implant for enhanced bone ingrowth to optimize the fusion environment.

The Tiger Shark family includes: Tiger Shark C Cervical Interbody, Tiger Shark Straight Lumbar Interbody System, Tiger Shark TL Passive Curved Interbody System and Tiger Shark L Lateral Interbody System.

These implants were designed with generous graft window, large boney ingrowth surface area, and a variety of anatomical footprints to assist in the restoration of sagittal balance with osteointegration possibilities.

ChoiceSpine LLC, is a spinal device company privately held by Altus Capital Partners, a private equity firm that makes control investments in middle market manufacturing businesses.

LuckyGunner now part of Mollenhour Gross

LuckyGunner, an online retailer based in Knoxville serving the shooting sports industry and law enforcement, announces it has been fully divested by Mollenhour Gross.

The company has joined 2A Group, LLC, a private investment company solely owned by Jordan Mollenhour. will continue to serve and supply recreational shooters, competitive shooters, safety training facilities, game hunters, gun clubs, law enforcement, and carry permit holders throughout the United States.

The change in ownership is not expected to result in any change in services or operations. “We remain focused on serving our customers and collaborating with our many industry partners,” says Jake Felde, chief executive officer. “This won’t affect that commitment.”

Mineral Springs Manor under construction

The McNabb Center has broken ground on Mineral Springs Manor.

The housing program is a 50-unit rental housing complex, providing much-needed low-income housing to senior citizens in the Knoxville area.

Mineral Springs will offer independent living to seniors experiencing issues with the aging process. It can offer supportive services that help seniors retain their independence and maintain their safety.

The nearly $8 million project is possible because of the financial support of Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation, the Helen Ross McNabb Foundation, the City of Knoxville, Knox County, Federal Home Loan Bank-Cincinnati, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and numerous private donors.

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