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VOL. 41 | NO. 28 | Friday, July 14, 2017

SmarkBank to acquire Capstone Bank

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SmartFinancial, Inc., a publicly-traded bank holding company for Knoxville-based SmartBank, has a merger agreement with Capstone Bancshares, parent company of Capstone Bank.

SmartBank has more than $1 billion in assets and operates 14 branches and two loan production offices. It is the bank’s fourth acquisition in the past five years.

With the transaction is complete, the combined company is expected to have assets in excess of $1.5 billion.

The acquisition, expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2017, is subject to customary closing conditions. This includes the approval of each party’s shareholders and the receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals.

“This is a compelling acquisition and we’re excited to partner with Capstone as we look to grow and further expand our footprint in the Southeast,” says SmartBank President and CEO, Billy Carroll.

“Capstone is a great community bank and we admire their leadership and the culture they’ve created. Much like our bank, Capstone has a strong history of service to both its customers and local communities and we look forward to building on that together.”

Capstone Bank is based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Capstone Bank’s President and CEO Robert Kuhn says the merger is a perfect fit. “We could not have picked a better partner from a community banking perspective. SmartBank’s core values align perfectly with Capstone’s, with a strong emphasis on client service, culture and the communities we serve.”

Chilhowee reopens; TWRA urges caution

Chilhowee Lake reopened to the public for boating and fishing on July 1 after a two-year closure.

Brookfield Renewable, which owns and operates Chilhowee Dam, began draining the reservoir in September 2015 for dam inspection and repairs.

Brookfield reports that the work is complete, and the reservoir has been re-flooded.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says boaters need to be aware there may be large amounts of floating debris in the reservoir as a result of the refilling process.

“We are extremely appreciative of the patience and understanding that was exhibited by the public as we undertook this large project to proactively fix issues at the Chilhowee Dam,’’ Andy Davis, Brookfield Renewable’s director of stakeholder relations in North America, said in a statement.

“While this project is complete, and water levels are back to the point where we feel comfortable allowing access for recreation, we do urge extreme caution to boaters and those utilizing the reservoir for recreation to watch out for floating debris that may be present, as the water was drawn down for quite some time, as well as changing water levels that are ever present in and around dams.’’

Ed Carter, executive director of TWRA, will also reopen fishing and also begin restocking several fish species into the reservoir this fall including crappie, bluegill, channel catfish and redear sunfish.

This winter, trout stockings will resume in Chilhowee as their allotment was diverted to Calderwood and Tellico lakes in order to provide angling opportunities in the same general area. Next spring, TWRA plans to stock walleye and smallmouth bass.

Fitzgerald Collision to expand, add jobs

Fitzgerald Collision & Repair officials have announced the company will undergo a major expansion, creating new jobs in the Upper Cumberland region.

The company plans to expand its existing facility in Rickman and establish new operations in Sparta.

Fitzgerald Collision also recently announced a new vocational program and partnership with the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Livingston, which offers students training in commercial fleet truck maintenance and repair, serving students in Middle and East Tennessee.

Fitzgerald Collision will add 100,000 square feet to its existing state-of-the-art repair facility in Rickman.

“The Fitzgerald family has decades of experience in the commercial trucking industry, and this most recent venture to provide best-in-class collision and repair service has been a tremendous success,” says Robert Fitzgerald, founder and CEO. “With growing demand for our services, we can think of no better place to invest and create more than 200 new jobs than the Upper Cumberland.’’

Mayor challenges residents to Go Vote!

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero wants residents to Go Vote!

She recently announced the launch of the voter program, a nonpartisan initiative to increase voter turnout in this year’s City of Knoxville elections.

“Simply put, the best decisions are made when the most people are involved,” Rogero says. “Deep, widespread community engagement leads to better local government.

“I want everyone to get to know the candidates. Understand where they stand on the issues. Ask questions. Determine which of the candidates will best represent you and your priorities for Knoxville’s future. Then, go vote in the Aug. 29 primary and Nov. 7 general election.”

Go Vote! Knoxville will include a series of public meetings. The first event was on July 10. The rest of the meetings are (5:30-7 p.m.)

• Monday, July 17: 2nd District: Deane Hill Recreation Center, 7400 Deane Hill Drive

• Thursday, July 20: 4th District: Milton Roberts Recreation Center, 5900 Asheville Highway

• Monday, July 24: 3rd District: Cumberland Estates Recreation Center, 4529 Silverhill Drive

• Tuesday, July 25: 6th District: John T. O’Connor Senior Center, 611 Winona St.

• Thursday, Sept. 7: 5th District: Christenberry Community Center, 931 Oglewood Ave.

Knoxville, Sevier win green awards

The Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition welcomed six new fleets as members of its “Tennessee Green Fleets Certification Program’’ at the 3rd annual Sustainable Transportation Awards and Forum.

2017 inductees into the program are:

One-Star fleets

• Piedmont Natural Gas – Tennessee Fleet

• City of Sevierville

• Knoxville Utilities Board

• Middle Tennessee Natural Gas

Two-Star fleets

• Sevier County Utilities District

• Franklin Transit Authority – TMA Group

The Knoxville Utilities Board, the City of Sevierville and the Sevier County Utilities District – shared a reduction of 140,000 gallons of petroleum and prevented over 300 tons of carbon dioxide emissions through their use of alternative fuel vehicles.

UT’s Tickle College targets $200 million

The University of Tennessee’s Tickle College of Engineering is extending the goal of its fundraising campaign to $200 million.

It was just 18 months ago that the Tickle campaign surpassed its initial goal of $150 million.

The college has raised $153,329,193 of its $200 million goal, part of UT’s Join the Journey campaign, which aims to raise funds for improvements in all areas of the university by the end of 2020.

Dean Wayne Davis said the investments being made in the college have a direct impact on students, faculty and staff, along with the industries the college serves.

Sponsorships and partnerships also play a key role.

Eastman’s partnership with the college helped to create a working unit operations laboratory in chemical engineering and to establish a high-end department student lounge and meeting space in 2014.

Both Eastman and UL, formerly Underwriters Laboratory, have also funded new professor of practice positions – three and one, respectively.

Smoky Mountain Service Dogs win grant

The American Valor Foundation’s Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit has donated $225,000 to train Smoky Mountain Service Dogs and serve more veterans.

“This generous gift will help support our mission to help as many veterans as we can,” says Mike Kitchens, chairman of Smoky Mountain Service Dogs of Lenoir City.

“We are beyond grateful to the American Valor Foundation and the Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit for supporting our organization.”

The American Valor Foundation, located in Hamilton, Texas, is a non-profit corporation committed to supporting military veterans, first responders and their families.

Each year, the Foundation selects a recipient for the Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit to honor the legacy of the U.S. Navy SEAL who died Feb. 2, 2013. Chris Kyle’s motto was: “It’s our duty to serve those who serve us.”

“Smoky Mountain Service Dogs could not be a more deserving and gracious organization,” says Deby Kyle, president of the American Valor Foundation and mother of the late Chris Kyle, author of “American Sniper.”

The donation will be the foundation for an upcoming capital campaign to help Smoky Mountain Service Dogs build a new training and kennel facility. Plans for the campaign will be announced soon.

Prime Medical earns accreditation

Knoxville-based Prime Medical Training was recently awarded approval as a CAPCE accredited organization.

CAPCE (Commission on Accreditation for Pre-Hospital Continuing Education) is the nationally recognized body for overseeing continuing education for emergency medical service professionals.

Prime will begin offering courses to the East Tennessee community both through traditional instructor-led training and online distributed learning. Matt Plummer is the EMS program coordinator.

“We’re proud to now hold this accreditation,” founder Andrew Randazzo says. “As a paramedic, I’m passionate about providing my peers a high standard of education where often times there is a disparity in the availability and quality of courses in this industry.”

Senior nonprofit seeks funding

Senior Smiles is launching its first fundraising campaign, with a target of $10,000 in local donations.

The nonprofit, called SMiles, is in its fourth year, providing transportation for non-driving older adults in Blount County.

There are 13 senior-friendly transportation programs in Tennessee that are modeled after SMiles.

Volunteers, driving their personal vehicles, have donated 13,800 hours of their time and traveled 90,156 miles to help county seniors.

The Senior Action Council oversees the SMiles operations. The Blount County Office on Aging houses SMiles and has a full-time manager and pays for office space at the Blount County Community Action Agency.