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VOL. 43 | NO. 30 | Friday, July 26, 2019

Knoxville engineers take on ‘Grand Canyon’

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The banks of Fourth Creek in West Knoxville on Summit Medical Group’s Wellington Drive property are highly eroded and are “absolutely the No. 1 pollutant source in Knoxville right now,” says Jim Hagerman, director of engineering for the City.

Restoring the Fourth Creek banks include taking nearly 7,000 cubic yards of existing soil on the site and placing it as a first layer of fill, followed by 2,300 tons of rock and then the addition of native plantings at the site.

On the Wellington Drive property, Fourth Creek is 130 feet wide with 30-foot-tall banks.

“We call it ‘Grand Canyon,’” Hagerman says.

“Fixing Grand Canyon will solve erosion and flooding and save money for the property owners downstream for many, many years to come,” adds David Hagerman, City stormwater engineer manager.

The restoration project begins this month and is expected to be completed in fall 2020.

Knoxville is partnering with property owners Summit Medical Group and contractor S&ME to fix the problem although the tributary is not on land owned by the City. The eroding sediment flows downstream and can cause flooding, harming the communities and other city properties around it.

The tributary flows about 3 miles, crossing major thoroughfares Northshore Drive and Kingston Pike, which can become flooded as well as businesses.

Knoxville’s investment as part of the partnering is $200,000. Approximate total cost of the engineering project is $820,000.

New health partnership to fight addiction

The Helen Ross McNabb Center, The University of Tennessee Medical Center and the United Health Foundation have formed a partnership to expand access to care providers and behavioral health services throughout East Tennessee.

“Every day we see the devastating effects of substance abuse and addiction on East Tennesseans,” says Jerry Vagnier, president and CEO of the Helen Ross McNabb. “We are grateful to have a partner like the United Health Foundation to help us expand the reach of our resources and services to meet the needs of our neighbors and their families. Together we will improve the lives of the people we serve.”

Tennessee ranks 38th in drug-related deaths with a rate of 22 per 100,000 in 2018, America’s Health Rankings reports. That rate has nearly doubled over the previous 12 years.

The three-year grant partnership will support Helen Ross McNabb Center’s mission by:

Educating people seeking care at UT Medical Center’s Emergency Room about available resources and services to help address their substance abuse/addiction, particularly individuals addicted to opioids

Engaging more than 250 patients per year, with the goal of 100 of these patients accepting a referral to outpatient, residential or other treatment options per year

Hiring addiction and peer support specialists to work within the emergency department to directly engage patients with needed resources and support.

KAT adds fourth free trolley for downtown

Knoxville Area Transit has announced its fourth free trolley line – the new Red Line, connecting a part of the South Waterfront and downtown – is scheduled to begin service Monday, Aug. 19.

The trolley line will follow a circular route from the Trolley Superstop on Main Avenue south across the Gay Street Bridge, west on Blount Avenue, then north across the Henley Bridge back to Main.

From the Superstop, a trolley passenger can access the free trolley lines to the University of Tennessee, the northern end of downtown and the Old City, the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum, and other destinations.

The Red Line will operate Monday through Saturday, with a trolley arriving at designated stops every seven minutes. The trolleys will run Monday through Thursday until 8 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays until 10 p.m.

The Red Line trolley service is not permanently funded. The current Knoxville budget provides $300,000 for the one-year Red Line demonstration project. The service will be evaluated in the coming months to determine whether there is enough ridership to justify making the route permanent.

UTK earns donations from 47,182 patrons

The University of Tennessee Knoxville has announced the university received donations from 47,182 donors last year, funding student scholarships, hiring new faculty, making campus improvement and offering other kinds of support.

Those donors contributed $173,746,126 during the 2018–19 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2019, and helped the university hit its $1.1 billion Join the Journey campaign goal in November – two years ahead of schedule.

More than half of the donors – 25,408 – who gave in the past year were alumni.

“I am inspired by the generosity of our Volunteer family,” says Chancellor Donde Plowman, who took office July 1. “Already I am meeting students who have been helped through these scholarships and getting to know some of our top faculty who have received these awards and professorships. Every day across campus, I see the impact of the support from our alumni and friends, and it makes me extremely proud.”

Since the 2012 campaign launch, donors have contributed $1.19 billion and established 857 undergraduate scholarship awards, 303 graduate fellowships and scholarships, and 159 faculty awards, professorships and chairs.

More than 7,000 UT students received scholarships from private support, which totaled nearly $20 million, providing access to education and easing financial burdens.

ESS buys Texas education company

Knoxville-based Education Solutions Services LLC, has acquired Proximity Learning Inc., of Austin, Texas.

ESS, the largest K-12 staffing provider in the country focused exclusively on placing qualified substitute staff in daily and long-term school positions, will now be able to offer PLI’s certified virtual teachers to complement the company’s in-class substitutes.

“We see this as an opportunity to further provide an alternative solution for long-term substitute teacher staffing needs, allowing ESS to build upon the varied services our clients demand,” says ESS CEO Buddy Helton. “By bringing PLI into the ESS family, we can instantly offer a full continuum of teacher staffing solutions across our customer base, while adding additional abilities around curriculum development and a solution for virtual charter schools.”

SBA announces flooding disaster loans for state

Tennesseans in some counties are eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans as a result of rain and flooding from May 1, 2018, through Feb. 25, 2019.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced the loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and private nonprofit organizations in the state.

Completed loan applications must be filed no later than Feb. 25, 2020.

The loans are available in the following Tennessee counties: Anderson, Bedford, Benton, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Carter, Cheatham, Claiborne, Cocke, Cumberland, Davidson, Decatur, Dickson, Franklin, Giles, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hancock, Hawkins, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Loudon, Marion, Marshall, Maury, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Montgomery, Moore, Morgan, Perry, Polk, Rhea, Roane, Robertson, Rutherford, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Stewart, Sullivan, Sumner, Unicoi, Union, Washington Wayne, Williamson and Wilson.

The loan amount can be as much as $2 million with interest rates of 3.61% for small businesses and 2.5% for private nonprofit organizations, with terms up to 30 years. The SBA determines eligibility based on size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure website at

City seeks input for Consolidated Plan

A series of public meetings have been announced as part of the Knoxville’s Community Development Department’s launch of its 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan.

City residents are also asked to take an online survey at to help prioritize the community’s need for affordable housing and services for homeless people, veterans, single mothers and other groups. Responses are anonymous and will be reported in group form only.

“We want to start a conversation with city residents about what they think our community needs are overall, listen to their ideas, and then find solutions through community development activities and housing,” says Linda Rust, Community Development administrator.

The meetings are:

Aug. 19. East. 5:30-7 p.m., Burlington Branch Library, 4614 Asheville Hwy;

Aug. 20. North 6-7:30 p.m. Inskip-Norwood Recreation Center, 301 W Inskip Dr.;

Aug. 22 West. 6-7:30 p.m. Deane Hill Recreation Center,7400 Deane Hill Dr. NW;

Aug. 26 South. 5:30-7 p.m. South Knoxville Community Center, 522 Maryville Pike.

Two additional meetings will be held at O’Connor Senior Center Sept. 25, 5:30-7 p.m., and Sept 26, 10:30 a.m.-noon.

Report: Knoxville’s pension system honored

Knoxville’s pension system has been recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for its 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

“The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management,” according to GFOA.

The pension staff also won a recent award for transparency from the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems.

SunTrust donates $275K to East Tennessee Y

The SunTrust Foundation has announced a $275,000 grant to the YMCA of East Tennessee to expand its youth development programs that focus on financial wellness, academics, leadership and well-being.

“The Y is more than a place to work out; we’re a place of impact in our community,” says Jim Dickson, CEO of YMCA of East Tennessee.

“The support from the SunTrust Foundation will help expand much-needed initiatives around health and wellness to the community we serve and also open the door to teach basic financial wellness principles to YMCA youth and teens.”

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