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VOL. 44 | NO. 43 | Friday, October 23, 2020

A ‘new normal’ Christmas season planned for Knoxville

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Knoxville will celebrate the Christmas season with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, with all events planned to safely accommodate participants and reduce the risks of spreading the virus.

“Even though celebrations won’t be the same as our normally planned events, our office is so excited about Christmas in the City this year,” says Judith Foltz, director of the Office of Special Events.

New events have been added for 2020. The Drive-In at the Midway series at Chilhowee Park will present holiday films Nov. 20 and Dec. 4. Film titles will be announced the first week of November. Admission is free, but space is limited and participants must register in advance to reserve a space.

The first Knoxville Neighborhood Holiday Trails challenges neighborhoods to decorate their homes and join the city’s tour of lights. If you live in a neighborhood or on a street that would like to participate, email Eden Slater in the Office of Neighborhoods at to register.

Some events have been modified. Beginning Monday, Nov. 23, downtown Knoxville will be decked out in lights and greenery, including Krutch Park’s forest of twinkling trees and the 42-foot Christmas tree in the Krutch Park Extension on Gay Street.

The Holidays on Ice skating rink will relocate from Market Square to the Civic Coliseum. The larger rink will allow skaters additional space to practice physical distancing while skating on the same ice where Knoxville Ice Bears play hockey. Starting Friday, Dec. 11, Holidays on Ice will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday with extended hours during Knox County Schools’ winter break. The full schedule will be posted soon.

Market Square will shine with new, peppermint-themed lighting displays provided in partnership with the Downtown Knoxville Alliance.

Some events have been canceled.

The Celebration of Lights will not be held Nov. 27, the Friday after Thanksgiving. Christmas at Chilhowee Park and the WIVK Christmas Parade will not be held due to the large crowds they traditionally draw.

Watauga plans to build surgery center

Watauga Orthopaedics is seeking approval from the state to build a orthopaedic surgery center.

The proposed surgery center would be the only one of its kind in the region, serving Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol, with a mission to improve quality and access while lowering patient costs.

“We have served the region for 70 years, and we are committed to continuing that tradition by meeting the growing needs of our community,” says orthopedic surgeon Marc Aiken. “Pending approval on the certificate of need, we will begin construction and open in 2022.”

As a single-specialty ambulatory surgery center, the facility will focus solely on orthopaedic procedures. The surgery center will be located near the Tri-Cities Airport, making it accessible to patients throughout the region. Watauga physicians also will continue to perform surgeries at local hospitals.

Pilot Pumpers raise $94K for United Way campaign

The 28th annual Pilot Pumpers fundraising event raised $94,697 for the United Way of Greater Knoxville despite the COVID-19 restrictions.

During the three-day event, Pilot donated five cents of every gallon of gasoline sold and 10 cents of every dollar spent in-store to the charity. Celebrity pumpers who usually assist shoppers were not able to participate this year due to the pandemic.

“We are impressed and humbled that, during a unique year without in-person celebrity pumpers greeting guests at the pump, the community stepped up and showed up at our stores to support the Pilot Pumpers fundraiser,” Pilot Founder Jim Haslam says. “Now, more than ever, the United Way is ready and able to help many people in East Tennessee, and this $94,697 will go a long way in supporting our community.’’

Pilot Pumpers is the single-largest special event fundraiser for the United Way of Greater Knoxville’s annual campaign. Since its inception in 1992, the event has raised more than $1.6 million for United Way.

Cherokee, Vol Network renew longstanding pact

Cherokee Distributing Company and the Vol Network have renewed their partnership.

George W. Sampson founded the beer distributing company in 1958, and the Sampson family has a longstanding relationship with the University of Tennessee and the Vol Network. Through the renewed partnership, Cherokee is the exclusive marketing rights holder to University of Tennessee Athletics in the beer and seltzer category. The sponsorship agreement will feature four brands: Coors Light, Dos Equis, Truly Hard Seltzer and Twisted Tea.

Cherokee will have enhanced direct access to audiences to promote products in addition to the marketing rights to use the Vol Network’s branding and logo. The company will also utilize the radio market and merchandising rights across its 61-county footprint in Tennessee to promote Vol Network sponsor brands.

Green Switch Match available via KUB

The Knoxville Utility Board has announced customers can sign up to participate in Tennessee Valley Authority’s Green Switch Match pilot program to support renewable energy production.

Green Switch Match allows KUB residential and commercial electric customers the opportunity to offset their carbon footprint with renewable electricity generated from solar, wind and biogas resources.

Green Switch Match participants match their monthly electricity consumption with an equivalent amount of renewable energy production for 1 cent per kilowatt-hour used. The typical residential KUB customer would pay approximately $10 more a month to participate in Green Switch Match and would reduce their carbon footprint by more than 8,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year.

Electricity purchased through Green Switch Match is generated from approximately 70% solar, 20% wind, and 10% biogas resources. Green Switch Match is a Green-e-Energy certified product and meets the environmental and consumer-protection standards set forth by the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions.

Maryville’s Foothills earns Blue Ribbon award

Foothills Elementary School has been named a 2020 national Blue Ribbon School.

Only schools demonstrating the highest academic achievement in the nation are considered for this honor. Foothills Elementary of the Maryville City School System will receive the award for a second time, first being recognized in 2014.

Administrators in the school and district have been providing data and programming details to the department of education, after learning the school was being considered. The vetting process takes months and is closely scrutinized by program officials.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools program has been recognizing academic excellence in America’s schools for 37 years. Schools are named in two categories for this award: Exemplary High Performing Schools and Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools. Foothills was named in the High Performing category.

Morningside Park becomes ‘Healthy Place’

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation is developing a BlueCross Healthy Place at Morningside Park in Knoxville.

The 36-acre park, located adjacent to downtown, is surrounded by university and multifamily apartments, as well as a high-rise community for seniors, including those with disabilities. Two elementary schools are also within walking distance. The park sits on a city bus line, making it easily accessible to visitors from other areas of the city.

The City of Knoxville applied for the BlueCross Healthy Place grant with assistance from the Legacy Park Foundation. Knoxville-based landscape architecture firm Ross/Fowler created conceptual designs of the space for the submission.

Proposed features for the space, based on community needs, include: Multipurpose field with bleachers, playgrounds for children ages 2-5 and 5-12, a challenge course, 40-yard dash and fitness area, walking trail and two community pavilions.

The BlueCross Foundation is providing $4.6 million for the project build and an additional $920,000 for a maintenance fund, bringing the total investment to $5,520,000.

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the BlueCross Foundation will announce 10 additional BlueCross Healthy Place projects in 2021.

Covenant plans outpatient center

Covenant Health has announced plans to build a $20 million outpatient facility at the corner of Chapman Highway and Mountain Grove Drive in South Knoxville.

Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2021.

The proposed South Knoxville facility has more than 36,000 square feet and will include an urgent care area with extended hours, a clinic for primary care and other medical subspecialties, a diagnostic center with laboratory and imaging services, and areas for physical rehabilitation and education.

“South Knoxville is rapidly becoming a destination community, with recent expansions in residential growth, thriving businesses and recreation areas,” says Jim VanderSteeg, Covenant Health President and CEO. “At the same time, South Knoxville is underserved in terms of medical care as a result of the closures of Baptist Hospital and Physicians Regional Medical Center, which often served people from areas south of the river. This new project will provide a variety of needed health services in a convenient location that is easily accessible for people in South Knoxville and Seymour.”

Sarah Moore Greene earns NIET honor

Knoxville’s Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy was recognized as a “School of Promise” by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.

The designation, which includes a $5,000 award, recognizes early success in implementing NIET initiatives to improve teaching and learning.

Sarah Moore Greene partnered with NIET in 2018 to help establish a common language and goals and receive coaching targeted to specific teacher and student needs.

After consecutive years of level 1 student achievement growth, the school earned level 5 in 2019, the highest growth rating possible in the state. While testing was suspended this spring, NIET said it continues to see Sarah Moore Greene model a spirit of collaboration and innovation through the COVID-19 transition.

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