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VOL. 41 | NO. 41 | Friday, October 13, 2017

Original Footwear buys Wolverine assets

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Morristown-based Original Footwear has acquired some assets of Wolverine World Wide, Inc.

Those assets are associated with the U.S. Department of Defense contract business and the transfer of outstanding defense department contracts to Original Footwear.

The Tennessee company specializes in products for the Department of Defense under the Altama brand. The company also owns Original S.W.A.T. and Ro-Search brands.

Original qualifies as a small business under Small Business Administration regulations, which allows the company access to a significant number of contracts not available to large corporations like Wolverine Worldwide.

The sale went into effect September 29, 2017.

Included in the sale is Wolverine Worldwide’s Big Rapids, Michigan, factory, which is one of the largest producers of footwear to the United States military.

Original Footwear will become a footwear supplier to Wolverine Worldwide for certain products currently made in the Big Rapids factory. Wolverine will retain the Bates brand and will continue to operate the Bates civilian and military exchange business.

Attorneys general file joint anti-opioid lawsuit

The district attorneys general of Tennessee’s Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts have jointly filed a lawsuit against prescription opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma L.P. and its related companies.

Other targets of the suit are Mallinckrodt LLC, Endo Health Solutions Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.

The lawsuit also names two additional plaintiffs known collectively as Baby Doe by and through their Guardians Ad Litem. Additional defendants named in the filing include the (now-dissolved) Tennessee Pain Institute, two former TPI employees and a convicted drug dealer.

“The Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which includes the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts of Tennessee, is one of the hardest-hit areas in the opioid epidemic that is plaguing the nation,” says Jared Effler, district attorney general for Tennessee’s Eighth Judicial District.

“The 15 counties within these five judicial districts border the Interstate 75 corridor, which has long been known as a major path of transportation for the illegal opioid market. Two of these counties – Campbell and Claiborne counties – have the third- and sixth-highest per capita opioid prescription rates for a U.S. county, respectively.

“In addition to having a terrible effect on the lives of a disproportionate number of East Tennesseans, opioid addiction places an overwhelming strain on our region’s finances,” Effler says. “This has led to increased costs for each of our counties’ policing, health care, rehabilitation, housing and criminal justice systems. We believe there is a direct correlation between East Tennessee’s opioid epidemic and the actions of these opioid manufacturers, and it is our intent to hold them accountable for the damage they have inflicted upon our region.”

THEC earns grant for low-income students

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has been awarded a $24.5 million grant to increase the number of low-income students in the state who are accessing and succeeding in higher education.

Tennessee was one of ten states awarded a GEAR UP grant as part of the 2017 competition. The grant comes from The U.S. Department of Education and is entitled the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant. It will provide Tennessee $3.5 million in resources annually over seven years.

“Tennessee has become a national model for college access and success and GEAR UP has played a huge role in those efforts,” says Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

“The strong partnerships that we’ll build with local communities through GEAR UP will continue to move us closer to the Drive to 55. Most importantly, this grant will allow us to connect directly with students and assist them on their journey to a college degree.”

Tennessee’s grant, operating under the name GEAR UP TN, will provide academic readiness and college access services to a cohort of 3,250 students in participating schools. Services are anticipated to begin in Spring 2018 for the Class of 2023.

In addition, approximately 2,750 high school seniors at the participating high schools will receive GEAR UP TN support during each year of the grant. Statewide services, including resources for fostering a college-going culture and a college access and success website, www.CollegeforTN.org, will serve over 35,000 students across Tennessee.

Greenways, trails work continues successfully

The City of Knoxville is making significant progress in upgrading approximately 11 new miles of greenways and trails in 2017.

The $1.3 million, 0.6-mile segment of First Creek Greenway will connect Woodland Avenue at Fulton High School to Edgewood Park. Work is underway on the Woodland Avenue entrance of the new segment of First Creek in front of Fulton High.

The project was funded through a Tennessee Department of Transportation Enhancement Grant with 80 percent funded by the state and a 20 percent match from the city.

Much of the construction has been visible to passersby from Broadway, especially the pedestrian bridge framework that crosses over First Creek. Crews built three retaining walls within the wooded portion of the greenway along the creek.

Crews have also started removing sidewalk on Edgewood Drive that will be converted into an asphalt greenway. Work for the entire project is slated to be finished by the end of fall 2017.

The City Council recently approved a second segment of the First Creek Greenway that will connect 0.3 miles from Fulton High School to Cecil Avenue. This is part of another grant from TDOT for the Broadway Greenway and Streetscape project. This portion is slated for completion in 2020.

City engineers are approaching completion of the design phase for a 0.9-mile extension of Northwest Greenway, connecting Victor Ashe Park to Western Avenue.

This project will include an impressive 464-foot bridge that will span over Western Avenue. Completion is slated for 2019.

In East Knoxville, a 0.3-mile extension of Loves Creek Greenway from Buffat Mill Road to Millertown Pike has entered the design phase.

Knoxville intends to extend Second Creek Greenway between World’s Fair Park and Bernard Avenue along Second Creek. The City Council approved the design contract to proceed on this 0.8-mile segment.

UT center joins women’s mentoring program

The University of Tennessee’s Center for Sport, Peace, and Society is joining the U.S. Department of State and espnW to organize one of the world’s leading mentorship programs for women in sports.

The center, a cooperative partner for the U.S. Department of State’s Global Sports Mentoring Program since 2012, has selected 17 women from 15 countries, including first-time countries Palestine, Morocco, Bolivia, and Belgium, to participate in the five-week exchange program hosted in Washington, D.C.

The program concludes Oct. 31.

“When you work with the best and the brightest women in the world, every year only becomes more spectacular,” says Ashleigh Huffman, the center’s co-founder and assistant director.

“As the sisterhood grows and we welcome more game changers into the family, the program transcends the five-week experience and becomes a continuation of a movement.’’

Huffman and the center’s director, Sarah Hillyer, who like Huffman is a UT professor, will lead the class of 17 women through their Better World curriculum.

They’ll also partner with local organizations for hands-on sessions in executive leadership, martial arts, adaptive sports and other topics that may contribute to the participants’ impact back home.

UT-Battelle, ORNL donate to United Way

UT-Battelle employees at Oak Ridge National Laboratory raised $858,000 for this year’s United Way campaign.

To celebrate, former University of Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer spoke to a Leadership Givers Breakfast for staffers.

Fulmer, who is involved with several United Way agencies, said many East Tennesseans rely on United Way for support in multiple ways.

Fulmer said UT-Battelle’s generosity enables United Way agencies to offer more services. UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the DOE’s Office of Science.

Scottish Festival donates to Maryville College

The 36th annual Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games recently made a $3,600 donation to Maryville College.

The funding will support facilities improvements and scholarships.

The event is East Tennessee’s oldest premier celebration of Scottish culture and heritage, originally founded in 1981. This region was settled by the Scots-Irish, and the Games are a nod to the rich traditions and history of these settlers and take place on the picturesque grounds of Maryville College.

With a record-breaking Saturday event this year, and despite the threat of rain, the total weekend attendance of over 7,000 attendees resulted in another successful event. more than 50 clans and societies attended the event with 40 vendors, 100 athletes, 12 pipe and drum bands, 70 clan dancers and eight entertainment bands supported by over 250 volunteers.

The next Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival and Games will be held in May at Maryville College.

Oak Ridge has new Friendship Bell location

The City of Oak Ridge recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new International Friendship Bell Peace Pavilion at the Bell’s new location in A.K. Bissell Park, just west of the Oak Ridge Civic Center.

“The Friendship Bell is a powerful symbol of hope, and it is a testament to the fundamental truth that despite past conflicts, we are stronger together in peace and harmony,” said Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch at the event.

“The Friendship Bell represents a bond of friendship, respect and unwavering support between Oak Ridge and the people of Japan.”

Major donors, including UT Battelle/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge Associated Universities and CNS - Y-12, participated.

The Bell, created for Oak Ridge’s 50th birthday, is expected to bring its message of peace and friendship to the thousands of visitors expected at the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Oak Ridge.