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VOL. 41 | NO. 11 | Friday, March 17, 2017

Sevierville competition will feature Parton tunes

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Sevierville 13th annual Mountain Soul Vocal Competition will honor Dolly Parton, with contestants being be asked to sing a song written by Parton in the style of his or her own choosing (country, rock, rap, bluegrass, etc.).

Contestants may enter in 13-and-older age or the 12-and-younger divisions.

“This competition is truly unique and draws competitors from all corners of the United States,” says Amanda Marr, Chamber marketing director and event organizer. “Since Dolly Parton is Sevierville’s hometown girl, holding a competition that honors her songwriting ability was a natural fit for us.”

As far as event organizers know, this is the only vocal competition in the world that specifically honors the songwriting of Parton.

Winning competitors take home cash and prizes, including a recording session in Nashville.

Auditions, sent by mail, will be judged by a panel of entertainment professionals who will identify 30 finalists – 20 in the ages 13+ division and 10 in the 12-and-younger division. The entry deadline for the preliminary round of the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition is April 7.

Those finalists will then perform during the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition Finals near the bronze statue of Dolly Parton at Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass.

New open, green area being built

A new green space will be added between James White Parkway and South Central Street in Knoxville at a cost of $26,890.

South East Mowing, based in Blountville, will first remove the old fence that has been in place for more than 30 years and runs parallel to Central Street, next to the sidewalk.

The company will then install 1,900 linear feet of new 6-foot-tall black vinyl fencing.

The new fence – minus any barbed wire – will be installed away from Central and closer to James White Parkway, creating a publicly-accessible open space that’s more than 100 feet wide in spots.

The contractor mowed 29,000 miles of grass and installed fencing in four states last year. South East Mowing was the lowest bidder for the City’s fence replacement project.

New guardrails have been installed along James White Parkway – the first step in opening up the green space off Central Street.

“I hear from people all the time who look longingly at the shaded areas on the other side of a rickety rusted fence,” says Rick Emmett, Knoxville’s downtown coordinator.

“They’re puzzled why the pretty pines, grassy areas and magnolias aren’t accessible for public use.

“We agree with them. In a matter of weeks, this green space will be accessible to Central Street pedestrians, between the PetSafe Downtown Dog Park and the Romanian Church near Cumberland Avenue.”

Downtown to get two new arts projects

Two new public art projects are coming to downtown Knoxville.

Artists for the two projects were selected by the City of Knoxville’s Public Arts Committee.

The Arts Committee is supported by city funding. The two newest projects, to be installed within six months of the contracts being signed, are:

11th Street stairs: ArtA contract for up to $15,000 is being finalized with Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn, a Baltimore-based team that will be transforming the 43 steps, 10 feet across, south of Cumberland Avenue at 11th Street.

The Gay Street Panel from ArtMecosta, Michigan artist Robert Barnum’s “Rhythm of Knoxville” design was selected by the committee, subject to finalization of a contract for up to $10,000.

During peak hours, the 11th Street stairs are used by thousands of pedestrians as they traverse the Second Creek Greenway to access World’s Fair Park, the University of Tennessee or downtown Knoxville.

Since 2011, Unterhalter and Truhn have been creating large-scale public murals. Their plan for the 11th Street Stairs pays tribute to the craft revival movement that took hold throughout Knoxville and most of Appalachia from the 1890s through 1945.

The design will strike pedestrians differently, depending on what direction they’re walking. The stairs are likely going to be painted this summer.

Barnum, who won the Gay Street Panel project, has installed large public art pieces in seven states. His weather-resistant metal hanging will adorn a 12-by-7-foot overhead rectangular slab of white concrete, framed by red brick, above the pedestrian walkway that connects South Gay Street with the State Street Garage.

The Arts Committee evaluated 15 submissions and selected Barnum as the most qualified artist for the Gay Street project.

UT outlines new policy for on-campus drones

The University of Tennessee has announced a new policy on drones, which will include the use of any unmanned aircraft system (UAS, or drone) on university property or in connection with university employment.

Drone operators must get approval no less than seven days before doing so. Troy Lane, associate vice chancellor of public safety and chief of police, will review the requests.

Once he’s approved a request, the drone operator should carry that paperwork with them when operating the drone.

Here are some of the highlights of the UT policy:

Drones may not be operated inside a building, on university-owned streets or sidewalks, or in any way that disrupts events or endangers people.

Drones may not be operated above anyone not involved in their operation.

Drones cannot be used within two miles of Neyland Stadium during football games and for four hours before and two hours after games.

Drones cannot be operated before sunrise or after sunset.

Drones must not be flown above 400 feet and must always give way to manned aircraft. Their operation must adhere to all federal, state, and local laws and to university policy.

Downtown entrances get makeovers

Knoxville maintenance crews have removed the mass of kudzu dangling from the retaining walls above the Interstate 275 South ramp to westbound Interstate 40, near the United Way offices.

The plants and dense underbrush were choking out native species off the I-40 entrances into and exits out of downtown Knoxville.

In addition, the Augusta Avenue entrance to Fort Dickerson and two Magnolia Avenue intersections are getting fresh looks, thanks to on-going brush-clearing operations.

Knoxville’s Public Service Department has been coordinating efforts to beautify some high-visibility public tracts downtown, in South Knoxville and in East Knoxville.

The city is working with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff J.J. “Jimmy” Jones to use county work crews to remove invasive vegetation.

?Crews have also removed invasive species and dense underbrush along multiple rights-of-way.

TWRA offers grants for stream clean-up

Cities, schools, service groups and others may apply for grant dollars for stream clean-up and planting projects for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced the grant dollars. Five grants, at a maximum of $1,000 each, are available for each of TWRA’s four regional Aquatic Habitat Protection projects – a total of $5,000 per region.

The projects are to be completed, the money spent, and a report submitted by June 30, 2018. The application deadline for this program is June 30, 2017.

Grant proposals should include the applicant organization’s name, tax ID number, address, phone, and name of a contact person authorized to enter into contractual agreement on behalf of the organization.

The proposal should also include the name of the stream, county or counties involved, and the project area and description.

Contact TWRA’s Della Sawyers at 615 781-6577 or by email at della.sawyers@tn.gov with any questions.

Cyber and Info Security event set for April

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory will host the 12th annual Cyber and Information Security Research Conference, April 4-6.

The event will be held at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Conference Center.

Private industries, entrepreneurs, and venture partners are encouraged to attend.

The focus will be to highlight and demonstrate eight technologies available for licensing from the Department of Homeland Security’s Transition to Practice Program.

These technologies were created and refined by ORNL and five other national laboratories.

Individuals or companies interested in licensing the technologies will have the opportunity to work with DHS to test and/or secure the rights to these technologies. Speakers include:

-- Robert Boshonek, Technical Director, Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command (NCDOC)

-- Shara Evans, Technology Futurist and CEO, Market Clarity

-- Kerry Long, Program Manager, Cyber Security, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA)

-- Bob Sorensen, Research Vice President in IDC’s High Performance Computing Group, speaking on Cyber Security Strategies & Approaches, Big Data Usage, and Cyber Profiles of Key Industrial Organizations in 2016.

Mary Beth West firm wins ADDYs

Blount County-based Mary Beth West Communications won two Knoxville ADDYs for post-wildfire cartoon series.

The American Advertising Federation of Knoxville’s 52nd annual American Advertisting Awards were held recently, and the West firm won for the series developed with Pulitzer Prize-nominated editorial cartoonist Marshall Ramsey for its client, the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority.

The cartoons were developed and released on social media in response to tourism-traffic concerns immediately following the Nov. 28 Sevier County wildfires.

Many travelers faced confusion in thinking that Blount County was impacted, resulting initially in numerous hotel cancellations.

“Blount County tourism destinations were in a predicament, experiencing cancellations, when the wildfires had actually taken place in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge – many out-of-town travelers weren’t making the geographic distinction,” says Mary Beth West, agency owner.

“We needed to get out a communication – something creative and attention-getting that would have wide play in social media – that helped set the record straight but also would uplift Sevier County, given the tragedy they were facing,” West says.