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Knoxville Biz Ticker: Macilveen introduces A Mortgage Boutique in Knox County

The Knoxville News-Sentinel logoThe Knoxville News-Sentinel 7/31/2020 Knoxville News Sentinel

Macilveen introduces A Mortgage Boutique in Knox County

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (July 30, 2020) — With mortgage rates at historic lows, local demand for home loans is climbing. But so are homebuyers’ frustrations with the lending process, and that’s unnecessary, says Aimee Macilveen, a local mortgage professional who is helping introduce a customer-friendly alternative in Knox County.

Macilveen is the senior loan officer and Knoxville branch manager for A Mortgage Boutique (AMB). True to its “boutique” status, the Tennessee-based company remains intentionally small to offer a higher standard of customer service, simplified home loan processing and exceptional rates to homebuyers and real estate professionals.

The Knoxville office is the first AMB location outside of Murfreesboro, where it was founded as an alternative to big mortgage corporations and their impersonal, molasses-slow loan processing, explained Macilveen.

“Most people dread the home loan process because it always seems so complicated,” she asserted. “We offer the same mortgage products as the ‘big boys,’ but without the unnecessary standardized steps that can slow down a loan application.”

Macilveen has been helping area homebuyers identify and select the best home financing options for 22 years. She currently serves on the board of the Knoxville Mortgage Bankers Association and will lead that organization as its president in 2021. In 2018, she was a member of the inaugural class of the Tennessee Mortgage Bankers Association’s Future Leaders Academy.

AMB’s loan products include conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, THDA and FMHA loans. For more information about AMB’s loan options and its “hometown attitude” approach to business, visit www.amortgageboutique.com.

To make an appointment to discuss mortgages with Macilveen, call her at 865-310-4367. She can also be reached via e-mail at aimee.macilveen@amortgageboutique.com.

Tripadvisor names Dollywood top 10 theme park in the world

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Thursday, July 30, 2020)— As Dollywood has continued to earn strong guest satisfaction scores and stellar guest reviews based on the quality experience visitors enjoy while at the park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Tripadvisor recently included it in the top-10 of its “Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards” for worldwide theme parks.

The park, located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, ranked number eight in the Travelers’ Choice Top 25 Amusement Parks in the world list and placed number six on the Travelers’ Choice Top 25 United States Amusement Parks. The 160-acre destination scored highly with Tripadvisor users, with many reviews recognizing the friendliness of employees, unique and thrilling rides and attractions, high-caliber entertainment, and Southern-focused cuisine. Dollywood also is “traveler ranked” as the number one thing to do while in Pigeon Forge. According to Tripadvisor, traveler ranking illustrates the “highest rated places of interest or tour operators based on traveler reviews.”

“We are working every day to ensure each member of the family has a world-class experience where they can spend time together making memories they’ll cherish forever,” said Craig Ross, The Dollywood Company President. “Feedback from our guests is critical to maintaining the environment we want to provide. This ranking from Tripadvisor reviewers is a testament to the extensive efforts we make to ensure the quality of the product we offer our guests.

“To be included in the top-10 with the most iconic parks in the industry illustrates our strong commitment to delivering the absolute best guest experience. On behalf of Dolly and all of our hosts, we are thankful to be named in the company of these amazing parks. This truly is a great honor.”

According to the Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best website, “Every year, we pull together all the reviews, ratings, and saves that travelers share from across the globe—and use that info to spotlight the very best. The Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best awards celebrate them all.”

On the list for top worldwide parks, Dollywood is the first American park on the list that is not part of the Disney or Universal families. American parks hold 12 of the 25 spots on the worldwide list. The worldwide top-10 is:

  • Disney’s Magic Kingdom (Orlando, Florida)
  • Puy du Fou (Les Epesses, France)
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure (Orlando, Florida)
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Orlando, Florida)
  • Universal Studios Florida (Orlando, Florida)
  • Universal Studios Hollywood (Los Angeles, California)
  • Tivoli Gardens (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)
  • Europa-Park (Rust, Germany)
  • Paultons Park (Romsey, United Kingdom)

The United States-only top-10 is:

  • Disney’s Magic Kingdom (Orlando, Florida)
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure (Orlando, Florida)
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Orlando, Florida)
  • Universal Studios Florida (Orlando, Florida)
  • Universal Studios Hollywood (Los Angeles, California)
  • Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)
  • Disneyland (Anaheim, California)
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Orlando, Florida)
  • Silver Dollar City (Branson, Missouri)
  • Disney California Adventure (Anaheim, California)

To see the full rankings, please visit tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Attractions

Additionally, Travel & Leisure recently included Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa on its “World’s Best Awards” survey as one of the “Top-15 Resort Hotels in the South.” According to Travel & Leisure, “Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T&L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe…Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value.”

Dollywood officials recently made operational adjustments to the park’s current visit protocol by removing the reservation requirement for guests. The move is in response to favorable feedback from guests, and the confidence of the park’s management team in being able to continue providing a satisfying experience for guests.

There are still plenty of great memories to be made during Dollywood’s 35th anniversary season. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana takes place Sept. 25-Oct. 31 and features the winner of USA Today’s 10Best Best Theme Park Halloween event in 2019, Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health. Dollywood’s season concludes with the 12-time Golden Ticket winner for Best Theme Park Christmas Event, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana, Nov. 14, 2020-Jan. 2, 2021.

For more information about Dollywood’s 2020 season, please visit www.dollywood.com or call 1-800-DOLLYWOOD.

First Horizon to conduct Second Harvest Food Drive in August 2020

Second Harvest Food Bank is one of First Horizon's top community partners and since 2018, they've held a food drive on their behalf to help. With the onset of COVID, Second Harvest is seeing an unprecedented increase in need from East Tennessee families and have asked that we host another food drive here locally.

This food drive will be at First Horizon banking centers in Knox, Blount, Roane, Loudon, Sevier, Hamblen and Jefferson counties throughout the month of August. The collection barrels will be placed outside in the front of each center for the general public to make their donations and can be brought in each night during closing. 

Champion Dogs return to Farragut

DOG DAZE IV at the Village Green Shopping Center is presented by TDS Telecom. This will be a 3 Day Festival of fun, food, shopping and competition!  SHOP FARRAGUT and Town of Farragut have teamed up with Smoky Mountain Dock Dogs,http://www.smokymountaindockdogs.com/ & Ricki’s Pet Depot, http://rickispetdepot.com/ to bring a nationally sanctioned regional canine aquatics competition by DOCK DOGS INTERNATIONAL, https://dockdogs.com/.  The festivities will take place in the Village Green Shopping Center parking lot, just south of Stein Mart and Planet Fitness, Friday August 14 through Sunday the 16th.

Smoky Mountain DockDogs is the local club that will be supporting this event. Club President Kaye Noble states; “Since the onset of the Covid Virus, many of our DockDog competitions have been cancelled.  So, we are excited to host this event which has just been awarded “WILDCARD” status.  As a wildcard, competitors will receive bonus points and the opportunity to go to the world championships in October.  We expect teams from as far away as Ohio and Florida to compete.”  In fact, all event registrations sold out in less than an hour this past May.  Additional time was added to the schedule this year to accommodate the demand.

This event will be utilizing the covid guidelines as outlined in the Tennessee Pledge.  If you feel sick, please stay home.  We welcome the use of a face mask throughout the venue and wherever it is not possible to social distance.  We will have masks available. Please bring your own hand sanitizer and there will be hand washing stations provided. We ask everyone to be safe and smart.

Competitors love coming to the Dog Daze at Village Green event because of the atmosphere of the crowd, the local food trucks, and the level of competition this event brings. There will be over 400 jumps with 150 competitors. This event is one of the last national events in the southeast, so it has become very popular with the competitors and even more so this year, due to the cancellations of so many springtime and early summer DockDog events.

Smoky Mountain DockDogs will also conduct a silent auction which will benefit the B.A.A.R.K. foundation. This is an organization that helps the DockDogs community in their time of need.

DockDogs® was established in 2000; its first event was at the ESPN 2000 Great Outdoor Games competition.  This competition will attract dog owners from across the Southeast.  Last year there were over 30 competitors and more than 5000 visitors during the sophomore effort of this soon to be annual Farragut event.  Registrants will be able to gain qualifying points towards attendance at the World Championships in October.  If you have never witnessed this – expect the unexpected! Learn more at http://www.dockdogs.com.  First Utility District is a major sponsor supplying over 27,000 gallons of fresh Tennessee River water to fill the pool for the weekend.

The festivities will start on Friday afternoon with local dogs taking a “Pooch Plunge!”  Area dog owners will have the opportunity to have their ‘puppy’ try a Dock-Dive!  K9 Center of East Tennessee has underwritten The Plunge activity which will allow non-competitors to try the DockDog experience free of charge.  Between 4 and 7pm, members of the Smoky Mountain DockDogs Club will assist area pet lovers with their introduction to the sport.  Actual competitions will commence on Saturday at 9am and competition registrations have SOLD OUT.

Between qualifying rounds, spectators can shop the Village Green shopping center, visit the many merchant booths on-site, mingle with pet food suppliers, plus get food & drink at the Festival Tent while visiting many pet related vendor booths, local merchant showcases and displays.  A few vendor spots are available by contacting Shop Farragut.

The entire weekend is free!

The final rounds of competition and award presentations will take place late Sunday afternoon.

Event Schedule:

Friday, August 14, 2020 Onsite Registration/ Practice – 3:00 pm

Try DockDogs – 4:00-7:00 pm

Saturday, August 15, 2020 Onsite Registration/ Practice – 8:00 am

Speed Retrieve WAVE # 1 – 9:00 am

Big Air WAVE # 1 – 11:00 am

Big Air WAVE # 2 – 1:00 pm

Big Air WAVE # 3 – 3:00 pm

Extreme Vertical WAVE # 1 – 5:00 pm

Sunday, August 16, 2020 Onsite Registration/ Practice – 8:00 am

Extreme Vertical WAVE # 2 – 9:00 am

Big Air WAVE # 4 – 11:00 am

Big Air WAVE # 5 – 1:00 pm

Speed Retrieve WAVE # 2 – 3:00 pm

Big Air Finals start at 5:00 pm

(Pro, Semi-Pro, Contender & Amateur Finals)

Event Format: Outdoor Big Air®, Extreme Vertical®, Speed RetrieveTM , and Iron Dog Rankings

DOG DAZE is made possible with support from TDS Telecom, First Utility District, SouthEast Bank, Ricki’s Pet Depot, MLILY USA, Fisher Tire Company, The Dog Wizard, K9 Center of East TN, Rocky Top K9, Josh Hemphill State Farm Insurance, HIS Security and Natural Balance.

American Junior Golf Association to hold two tournaments in Sevierville this month

Sevierville, Tenn. – The American Junior Golf Association has two tournaments scheduled in July at the Sevierville Golf Club. The AJGA Junior Open Presented by Visit Sevierville (July 27-29) and the AJGA Preview Presented by Visit Sevierville (July 29-31) are expected to bring 234 golfers from 25 states – some as far away as California. The tournaments are anticipated to generate over $300,000 in economic impact for Sevierville this month.

Bringing the golf tournaments to town was a team effort between the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce and the Sevierville Golf Club led by Tony Funderburg, Chamber of Commerce Director of Sales and Advertising and Craig Volentine, Sevierville Golf Club Head Professional. “We have been talking with the AJGA for a couple of years now about bringing a tournament to Sevierville. Working with Craig on these discussions led to the AJGA asking us to host two tournaments this year. We jumped at the opportunity as the Sevierville Golf Club is a tremendous asset both our visitors and locals enjoy,” says Funderburg.  A partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development helped further secure the tournaments, which will play on the River Course of the facility.

“The prestige that comes from hosting a major golf event is priceless,” says Volentine. “The AJGA is the world’s premier junior golf tour. Many of the golfers participating next week will play collegiate golf and, with some hard work and luck, perhaps the PGA or LPGA Tour after that.  Not every golf course is capable of hosting these types of events, but the Sevierville Golf Club and City of Sevierville are a perfect destination for the participants and their families. We look forward to showcasing our Smoky Mountain hospitality.”

“Events like this highlight golf in Sevierville while also generating a positive economic impact for the city as a whole,” says Sevierville Chamber of Commerce CEO, Brenda McCroskey. This year’s tournaments have the potential to become annual events and grow to include elements such as a Pro-Am, which would let local golfers join the junior golfers for a day on the links.

For more information about the upcoming tournaments, visit www.ajga.org.

The Sevierville Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to the promotion of Sevierville and Sevier County through the expansion of tourism and the strengthening of business relations. The Sevierville Chamber of Commerce serves as the destination marketing arm for the City of Sevierville.

The Sevierville Golf Club is a 36-hole resort-style golf facility owned and operated by the City of Sevierville and situated on the banks of the Little Pigeon River.

Tennessee is the home of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll – delivering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history and family adventure, infused with music that creates a vacation that is “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” In 2018, Tennessee’s tourism industry generated $22.02 billion in economic impact, more than $1.81 billion in state and local tax revenue and more than 189, 757 tourism-related jobs. Explore more at tnvacation.com and join other Tennessee travelers by following “tnvacation” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube or “Tennessee” on Snapchat.

The AJGA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.

Top Workplaces expands its employer recognition program

Top Workplaces is going national! In August, Energage is expanding the brand to include a collection of new recognition awards. This new offering builds on the terrific work that has made Top Workplaces the nation’s most prestigious, most credible regional employer recognition program.

The time is right for this. The world of work has changed dramatically as you know, with work-from-home numbers climbing to more than 50% from 15% in recent months. Employees and customers are becoming more selective about choosing for whom they work – and with whom they work. It is more relevant than ever to tap into employee feedback, use that to create a people-centered culture, and showcase it with authentic recognition.

Delivering more and new opportunities for organizations to earn authentic, high-profile recognition in addition to the regional program, we are expanding Top Workplaces to include these additional awards:

  • National Top Workplaces award
  • Industry Top Workplaces awards
  • Culture Excellence Top Workplaces awards
  • Aspiring Top Workplaces award

What hasn’t changed is our commitment to working closely with you on regional awards. This brand expansion will help to:

  • Create additional opportunities for advertising revenue.
  • Attract larger organizations that have a national footprint.
  • Drive more participation to your regional programs.
  • Strengthen Top Workplaces as the nation’s leading recognition brand.
  • Feature quarterly awards based on special topics and industries.

Visit, https://www.energage.com/top-workplaces/program-expansion/ to learn more about the national program rollout.

Knoxville Area Urban League creates ‘takeout’ Shoes for School

The Knoxville Area Urban League’s 18th annual Shoes for School has been remodeled into a “takeout” event, and the traditional festival in Caswell Park has been canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.

Starting July 31, the Knoxville Area Urban League will arrange for delivery or pickup of more than 1,500 pairs of new tennis shoes and thousands of school supplies in coordination with nonprofit partner agencies. The Knoxville Area Urban League will deliver boxes of shoes to participating agencies with storage space; others will have the opportunity to get their shoes “to go” at a designated location set up for social distancing.

Support from the Tennessee Valley Authority, Covenant Health and community sponsors allowed the Knoxville Area Urban League to be able to continue the vital “Shoes for School” program in 2020.

“As economic first responders for our community, we could not let a pandemic stop us from giving schoolchildren the help they need,” Knoxville Area Urban League President and CEO Phyllis Y. Nichols said. “Our organization will coordinate pickup or delivery to ensure kids get their shoes and school supplies before school opens. We are especially grateful to our sponsors for stepping up at a tremendous time of need, and we look forward to being back at Caswell Park in 2021.”

Shoes are pre-ordered by participating agencies who sign up families in need. Each year, thousands of kids ages 5-12 also attend the event to gather needed school supplies. The new event format will ensure the kids and their families receive both shoes and supplies in a safe manner.

Nichols encourages companies, organizations and individuals who have supported Shoes for School previously as booth sponsors to make donations to the Knoxville Area Urban League at www.thekaul.org.

“COVID-19 has changed everything for everybody, but there are some things we can control,” Nichols said. “We are seeing an increased need for support, especially among families, and with the help of our generous sponsors and our community, we can provide these basic tools for education.”

About the Knoxville Area Urban League

Since 1968, the Knoxville Area Urban League has assisted disadvantaged people attain social and economic stability and self-sufficiency through direct services and advocacy. The League works to provide a skilled and diverse workforce; to increase homeownership; to support economic and small business development, and to enhance education efforts for our youth. The Knoxville Area Urban League is a United Way partner agency and affiliate of the National Urban League. The League’s work and results are evident in the lives of the over 8,000 people it impacts each year. For more information, call 865-524-5511 or visit www.thekaul.org.

Bite Squad looking for 200 workers in Knoxville

Knoxville, TN – Bite Squad, a leader in on-demand food ordering and delivery, announced today it is looking to hire 200 new contract drivers in the Knoxville area.

“These positions will not only help satisfy the continued demand for delivery from restaurant and grocery partners, they will offer employment during a time when many companies are cutting back their workforce,” said Carl Grimstad, CEO. 

Bite Squad provides masks, gloves and sanitation spray to all its drivers. It also offers no-contact delivery for all restaurant and grocery orders.

Bite Squad says the drivers, once activated as independent contractors, will be able to start immediately. Requirements for applicants include a valid driver’s license, proof of auto insurance and a smart phone. You must also be 18 years or older to be eligible. To apply, please go to bitesquad.com.

Chris Barnes, head of Driver Operations, says flexible schedules are available for drivers and earnings could be considerable. “One local manager told me a driver made over $9,500 last month alone,” he said.

Bite Squad along with Waitr connect local restaurants to hungry diners in underserved U.S. markets. Together, they are a convenient way to discover, order and receive great food from local restaurants, national chains and grocery stores. As of June 30, 2020, Waitr and Bite Squad operated in small- and medium-sized markets in the United States in over 600 cities.

Cook Bros. Homes announces a second Epcon Community in Knoxville area

KNOXVILLE, TENN. – Cook Bros. Homes announced another new community today that will contribute more than $15 million to the local economy.  The development, The Grove at Chatuga Coves, is Cook Bros. Homes’ second Epcon Community announced this summer and is a testimony to the resilience of the East Tennessee new home market.

The Grove at Chatuga Coves will have 34 homes with private courtyards and multiple amenities. The community is located on the Tennessee River near downtown Loudon just minutes from Lenoir City and many marinas. It also features a pavilion, Bocce Ball court, walking trails, and all of the Tellico Village amenities. Cook Bros. Homes plans to start building this summer and will start pre-selling homesites and homes on Thursday, July 30. The first homes are scheduled for completion by the end of this year.

Offering three exclusive Epcon home plans, each home is designed and built to connect to the outdoors and the community. Home buyers will be able to create a home that truly speaks to them.  Starting at 1,519 square feet and going up to 2,769, these “smart floor plans” boast a variety of structural and finish options.

“The Grove at Chatuga Coves will feature single-story homes on large lots with many lots offering beautiful sprawling views,” said Ashley Cook, Director of Sales at Cook Bros. Homes. “In this community, all of the lawn maintenance will be provided so homeowners can spend their time enjoying the awesome amenities the community has to offer.”

“It’s really targeted to people who want a luxury ranch home, a low-maintenance lifestyle, and a strong sense of community,” said Bri Zigler Clabo, Chief Operating Officer at Cook Bros. Homes. “We believe there are more important things to do than mowing grass or trimming hedges. The Grove at Chatuga Coveswill provide homeowners with the headache-free, comfort-rich living experiences they’ve been searching for - with the added benefit of low Loudon County taxes.”

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has hastened a trend that was already happening in America – increased residential development in smaller and mid-size cities like those in East Tennessee. “We expect the virus could affect future housing preferences for those currently living in the hardest-hit, high density environments and that housing demand will continue to rapidly increase in medium- and low-density communities,” said NAHB Chairman Dean Mon.

Cook Bros. Homes has specialized in building semi-custom homes for retirees and empty-nesters since 2004. Cook Bros. Homes announced its first Epcon community in East Tennessee just last month and – when combined with The Grove at Chatuga Hills – represents a $40 million investment in the Loudon community. The Grove at Cedar Hills, has 67 homesites that started selling in June.

The Grove at Chatuga Coves is located in Loudon, Tenn. on the Tennessee River just off the Tellico Parkway. For more information or to attend the pre-sale event on July 30, visit www.CookBrosHomes.com or EpconFranchising.com or call (865) 325-2500.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee named National Agency of the Year by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has just named Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee National Agency of the Year!

In addition to this tremendous honor, Board President Diana Salesky received the Irvin F. Westheimer Award for Visionary Leadership, one of the highest individual honors from BBBSA.

These awards are testament to the fantastic work of our team, to our board and board leadership, to our donors, and to our Bigs, Littles, and families. They are also a testament to YOU – our community of supporters. Thank you for standing beside us, especially as we navigate this time of uncertainty.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee team is thrilled to celebrate this honor, but we know there is so much more we can do to positively impact East Tennessee youth and their families.

Zoo Knoxville offers new summer hours to help you beat the heat

Knoxville, Tenn. (July 17, 2020) – Beginning Monday, July 20, Zoo Knoxville is rolling out new summer hours to give guests the option to visit in the evening when the temperatures are cooler and the animals more active.

During Summer Nights presented by Shafer Insurance Agency, the zoo will be extending their hours from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. each Thursday through Labor Day.  If the evening hours prove popular with visitors, they plan to add another day of extended hours during the week.

The new zoo hours will be 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Thursday and 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day.

“We are always looking for ways we can make our experience better for our guests, and also use our resources wisely,” said Lisa New, President and CEO.  “After looking at our visitation patterns and testing a couple of extended hour offerings, we realized that it made sense to shift our hours to allow our visitors to access the zoo during the evening.   The temperatures are more pleasant, the animals are more active and it makes it possible to plan a visit during the week around work schedules.”

The zoo will offer all its regular activities, including the Safari Splash water play area, carousel and train rides, and restaurants will be offering dinner, snacks and drinks.  Guest are encouraged to purchase tickets online to minimize contact and to bring a mask so they can safely visit indoor areas.  Masks are not required for outdoor areas.   

About Zoo Knoxville

Zoo Knoxville is a nonprofit entity situated on 53 wooded acres just east of downtown Knoxville. Zoo Knoxville is Knoxville’s largest attraction and features exhibits of wild animals in natural habitats and is world renowned for its efforts in conservation and species survival. Zoo Knoxville is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. The zoo is open daily with special summer hours through Labor Day.  For more information visit zooknoxville.org.

About Shafer Insurance Agency

Shafer Insurance Agency is one of Knoxville’s oldest independent insurance agencies serving the East Tennessee community. Their mission is to provide superior insurance coverage, industry expertise, and exceptional service, while maintaining a commitment o excellence to our clients, community, and colleagues. Shafer Insurance Agency offers comprehensive, affordable, customized insurance coverages, such as personal insurance, business insurance, employee benefits, life insurance, and bonds.  In addition, they offer specialized services such as Risk Management consulting, Safety and Loss Control services, and customized Human Resources solutions for businesses of all sizes.  The phrase “Be Safer with Shafer®” represents the feeling of security and comfort the agency wants clients to experience. Whether insuring home and auto, or business and livelihood, Shafer Insurance Agency wants clients to rest assured knowing their insurance needs are completely met.  For more information, visit www.shaferinsurance.com

InfoSystems sells stake in APSU, Inc.

Chattanooga, Tennessee (July 15, 2020) — InfoSystems, an information technology and cybersecurity firm headquartered in Chattanooga with offices in Nashville and Knoxville, has sold its stake in APSU, Inc., a Chattanooga-based cloud service provider, to Tectrade, a New York-based group focusing on cloud services and data protection, as well as data storage and infrastructure.

“We are incredibly pleased with our successful APSU experience and happy about the transfer of ownership to Tectrade,” said Keith Hales, Chief Operating Officer at InfoSystems. “Since we took over the business more than two years ago, we’ve been able to boost its bottom line and lengthen its client roster substantially. Building on that momentum, Tectrade has the team and resources in place to aggressively expand on what we’ve built.”

In addition to purchasing InfoSystems’ stake, Tectrade has purchased the remaining balance of APSU, making it the sole owner of the company. As part of the agreement, Tectrade intends to keep the full Chattanooga support team in place, and continue to house it at the InfoSystems headquarters.

“As soon as we purchased APSU in 2018, we were able to add some top-tier members to that team,” said Scott Davis, Chief Executive Officer at InfoSystems. “When evaluating this new deal, one of the most important factors for us was the ability to keep the APSU team in place here in Chattanooga. Now, those professionals will have the chance to keep growing with the business they’ve played a large hand in making a success.”

APSU, Inc. offers managed information technology services, cloud computing, and is an IBM partner for disaster recovery needs. Though remaining an APSU partner, by selling its ownership share, InfoSystems will focus its energies and resources on its cybersecurity and IT services.

Dollywood officials remove reservation requirement

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Tuesday, July 14, 2020) — With nearly a month of learnings from operating in the current environment, Dollywood officials have made operational adjustments designed to make trip planning simpler. Based on strong guest satisfaction scores and stellar guest reviews about the park’s operating environment, Dollywood no longer requires guests to make reservations prior to their visit.

“With the favorable feedback from our guests and the confidence our management team has in being able to continue to provide a satisfying experience for our guests, we are going to make it simpler and easier to visit the park without prior planning by removing the current reservation requirement,” explained Craig Ross, The Dollywood Company President. “Guests are sharing their praise for the extensive efforts we are making during this pandemic. They are telling us they enjoy the shorter wait times, and that they find it easy to spend their day with us.”                

Additionally, one-day tickets and multi-day tickets are now valid for a five-day window following the original selected date. This means that if a visitor’s plans must change at the last minute—or if the weather doesn’t cooperate—they may visit at another time during the ticket window. A paid ticket guarantees access to Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country.

To maintain social distancing, passholder reservations are still required at Dollywood’s Splash Country.

More information and a video detailing the operational changes at the park are available for review at www.Dollywood.com/playsafe and on the Dollywood mobile app.

Additionally, after a number of impressive national awards received in 2019, Dollywood again has been nominated for a number of categories in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards. The contests, which are now live, run through Monday, July 20 at 11:59 p.m.

Fans of Dollywood are encouraged to vote every day from each of their devices. Voting takes place at 10best.com/awards/travel. A page with links to each voting page can be found at www.dollywood.com/vote. Competition is fierce, so Dollywood fans should vote early and often to show their support! The Dollywood Company properties and attractions featured in the voting include: 

  • Best Amusement Park- Dollywood (currently ranked sixth)
  • Best Outdoor Water Park- Dollywood’s Splash Country (currently ranked fourth)
  • Best Amusement Park Hotel- Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa (currently ranked third)
  • Best Roller Coaster- Lightning Rod (currently ranked seventh)
  • Best Amusement Park Entertainment- Dreamland Drive-In (currently ranked fourth)
  • Best Amusement Park Restaurant- Aunt Granny’s Restaurant (currently ranked second)

Dollywood opened June 15 for its 35th anniversary season. Guests can currently experience the breathtakingly beautiful Flower & Food Festival presented by Covenant Health. During this spectacular event, guests can explore larger-than-life plant sculptures adorned in half-a-million colorful flower blooms. These colossal displays reach heights up to 14 feet and create breathtaking displays celebrating the spirit of the Smoky Mountains. Floral carpet beds envelope walkways, embellish buildings and fill flowerbeds throughout the park.

Dollywood also remains open until 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings through August 1, with a fireworks show to put an exclamation point on the evening. The park closes at 8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday. 

Pilot Company kicks off round-up campaign to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (July 14, 2020) – Pilot Company, the leading supplier of fuel and the largest operator of travel centers in North America, announced today a new in-store round-up campaign to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The campaign, which runs from today through July 27, will aid the organization’s ongoing efforts to serve kids, families and communities in need, especially now as it adapts its services in the midst of COVID-19.

While more than 1,000 Clubs are currently open to offer childcare for essential workers, COVID-19 has forced nearly half of Boys & Girls Clubs across the country to close their doors in a traditional fashion. To ensure the organization is still able to help kids and families in communities with the greatest need, more than 3,000 Clubs nationwide are offering a range of services such as virtual academic programming, activity kits for pickup and providing meals to children who are out of school.

“For nearly 160 years, Boys & Girls Clubs have provided youth with the services, stability and support they need to succeed,” said James A. Haslam II, founder of Pilot Company. “As a long-time valued partner of Pilot Company, we appreciate the commitment of Boys & Girls Clubs to serving children in our communities. Thanks to the generosity of our guests, Boys & Girls Clubs will be able to help youth across the country stay connected and keep learning in these uncertain times.”

Throughout the two-week campaign, guests are invited to visit any of the 700 company-operated stores to participate, including Pilot and Flying J travel centers and restaurants, EZ Trip, Mr. Fuel, Stamart and Pride locations. Guests will be prompted at checkout to round-up their purchase* or make a donation of another amount. When guests donate, 100% of the proceeds will benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of America and its continued efforts with youth development and community services.

“We are so thankful to the Pilot Company for supporting children, families and communities as they navigate this difficult time in 2020,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “Because of Pilot’s commitment, we can continue to help ensure all youth have equitable access to opportunities to learn and grow in a safe, online environment while they prepare to return to school.”

This is Pilot Company’s second round-up campaign this month in an effort to make a positive impact while responding to the nationwide coin shortage. While Pilot Company continues to provide change as appropriate, the round-up option provides a simple way for guests to instead donate their change.

To learn more about Pilot Company and its longstanding commitment to giving back, visit pilotcompany.com/about. For nearby travel center locations to donate, download the Pilot Flying J app.** More information about Boys & Girls Clubs of America is available at https://www.bgca.org/.

*Certain purchases (including, without limitation, fuel and fuel additives and purchases made on fleet cards or direct bill programs) are not eligible for round-up contributions.

**Standard data rates may apply.

Gary Sinise Foundation provides mortgage-free home to Purple Heart recipient with support from Home Builders Association of Greater Knoxville (HBAGK)

KNOXVILLE, TENN. – JULY 14, 2020 –Purple Heart recipient U.S. Army Staff Sergeant (Ret.) Casey Jones and his wife Shannon were officially welcomed into their new home, provided by the Gary Sinise Foundation, in Sevierville, Tennessee late last month. The home was built through the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) program, which provides 100% mortgage-free specially adapted smart homes for our nation’s most severely wounded heroes.

Members of the Home Builders Association of Greater Knoxville (HBAGK) – which represents Knox, Sevier, and 14 other East Tennessee counties supported the construction of the new home which was built by the Gary Sinise Foundation.

a man holding a kite while standing in front of a house: Casey Jones and his wife Shannon were officially welcomed into their new home, provided by the Gary Sinise Foundation with support of the HBAGK. © Julia Robinson Casey Jones and his wife Shannon were officially welcomed into their new home, provided by the Gary Sinise Foundation with support of the HBAGK.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Jones family was treated to a unique virtual home dedication from the Gary Sinise Foundation and their partners. Casey and his wife Shannon previously lived in a two-story home in Knoxville that was not constructed to be accessible to Casey’s needs. The Gary Sinise Foundation provided Casey and Shannon with a specially adapted smart home designed to ease Casey’s daily challenges and allow them to feel comfortable in their own home.

 “The Gary Sinise Foundation is honored to provide a home to one of our nation’s heroes, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant (Ret.) Casey Jones. This home was specifically designed to help Casey each day regain independence and mobility that was lost as a result of his injury,” said Elizabeth Fields, Chief Operating Officer of the Gary Sinise Foundation. “Thank you to all of our partners for helping us show Casey and his wife Shannon how grateful we are for their service and sacrifice. We wish them a lifetime of blessings and happiness in their forever home.”

On May 16, 2013, while deployed in Senjaray, Afghanistan, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant (Ret.) Casey Jones was tasked with clearing a compound that would serve as the location for a command post. As he was assisting his team leader, Casey stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED), which detonated beneath him, causing him to lose both of his legs.

After Casey arrived at Walter Reed National Military Center, he spent two years learning how to walk again. Although the process was grueling, Casey persevered, and his wife Shannon was there to support him every step of the way.

Casey served our nation from October 2012 to May 2013 earning many distinguished awards such as the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (2), NCO Development Award, Good Conduct Medal (2), and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

“This was such a rewarding project to be involved with,” said Dan Mitchell of Eagle CDI, a member of HBAGK. “The Home Builders Association of Greater Knoxville gives back to the community in hundreds of ways, but when you see people as deserving as Casey and Shannon getting a new home designed specifically for them and their unique needs, it brings that giving to life for the dozens of HBAGK members who participated.”

CNS completes major safety milestone at Y-12 National Security Complex

Oak Ridge, Tenn. – The Y-12 National Security Complex has an improved fire protection system after workers recently completed an extensive eight-year plant-wide effort to replace more than 9,850 sprinkler heads in six different facilities.

Completion of the $46 million “50-Year Safety Significant Sprinkler Head Replacement Portfolio” means that those facilities can continue to meet fire protection requirements, which reduces the site’s fire protection systems risk from high to low risk while improving Y-12’s long-term operations capability. The facilities with improved fire protection include one legacy facility and five production facilities.

Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC, the management and operations contractor at Y-12, coordinated the work that involved 20 individual wet-pipe systems with more than 12 separate departments using integrated project teams to minimize the impact to ongoing facility operations.

The sprinkler heads, which were originally retrofitted to existing nuclear facilities beginning in the late 1960s, were either at, or near, the end of their 50-year life. While testing a sampling of the fire protection systems may have given a 10-year reprieve on replacement, site leadership chose the longer term solution.

“The facilities that these sprinkler systems protect are essential to ensuring our nation’s security,” said Y-12 Site Manager Bill Tindal. “Therefore we must take a long term view. Successful completion also provides a safer environment for our workers and increases confidence in our facilities to operate now and well into the future.”

Completion of this portfolio of projects ensures Y-12’s facilities compliance with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 25 Standard for safety-significant systems. 

Genera announces hiring push for new facility

VONORE, Tenn. – July 7, 2020 – Genera, a manufacturer of domestically sourced and produced ag-based pulp and molded fiber products, is hiring for multiple positions at its new state-of-the-art East Tennessee facility in preparation for the launch of full commercial production later this year.

Genera is currently accepting applications for multiple positions, including electrical and instrument technicians, lab technicians, maintenance technicians, molded fiber technicians, operating technicians and packing/handling/warehouse technicians. All current openings are full-time and include paid time off, holidays, medical, dental, vision and 401(k).

“This is an opportunity to be part of a company that’s offering advanced solutions for the paper and packaging industries while providing new market opportunities for farmers in East Tennessee at the same time,” said Keith Brazzell, Genera’s COO. “We’re looking for applicants with factory and manufacturing experience who are dependable and motivated. Our products and this facility are special, and we’re building a team to match that.”

The fully operational Genera facility will process switchgrass and biomass sorghum grown by regional farmers. The facility that will produce Genera’s Earthable® line of sustainable food-grade packaging products will be the largest fully integrated domestic solution for ag-based fiber and food-grade packaging in North America. The company is expected to bring 120 new jobs to the area.

“This is an exciting time at Genera,” Brazzell said. “Finding the right people to fill these positions is one more major step toward getting the facility online and fully operational. We’re confident that Genera and Earthable® can be part of a long-term solution for local agriculture and sustainability, and we feel good about bringing that to the economy in East Tennessee.’

For more information about job openings at Genera or to apply, visit http://www.generainc.com.

About Genera

Genera, a Tennessee-based ag fiber manufacturer, works to simplify supply chains with domestically sourced and produced ag-based pulp and molded fiber products. Partnering with local farmers, Genera provides a sustainable farm-to-finished product solution for a wide array of applications including compostable food service tableware, to-go containers, packaging, paper, tissue and more. To learn more about Genera, please visit https://generainc.com.

Hillcrest Healthcare thanks employees for COVID work with $250,000 in incentive payments

Hundreds of employees across Hillcrest Healthcare’s three Knoxville communities recently received incentive payments totaling more than $250,000 for their commitment and efforts during the ongoing pandemic.

Hillcrest Healthcare’s leadership and board of directors created the financial incentive to honor more than 500 employees and show them appreciation in a meaningful way. Both part-time and full-time employees who have been with the company since early May or longer will receive the payments, including those in non-medical roles such as maintenance and administration.

“Our teams have worked so hard since the beginning of the pandemic, with many continuing to take on extra responsibilities, hours and shifts and stepping up to the plate for our residents,” said Barry Davis, president and CEO of Hillcrest Healthcare. “Not only have they been on the front lines of the defense against COVID-19, but they also have kept up our residents’ spirits and bolstered each other.”

Employees are following extra voluntary precautions and underwent training to protect and support patients against COVID-19. Hillcrest’s medical employees agreed to work at only one facility to guard against cross-infection, per industry best practices and recommendations. To reduce risk of outside contamination, employees also agreed to eat meals provided on-site, which meant they didn’t leave the healthcare facilities for multiple shifts.

Staff members learned new skills and adjusted quickly in order to support the increased workload and need for individualized resident services due to COVID-19. Employees were trained to serve meals in rooms, to conduct virtual visits and even to give residents manicures as a fun individual activity.

“This is what makes us ‘Hillcrest Strong,’” Davis said. “Our employees are our heroes, and we are grateful that we are able to show it in an impactful way.”

The incentives were based on length of service and employment status, with most employees serving since the pandemic began receiving gross payments up to $550.

UnitedHealthcare donates nearly $600,000 to nonprofits in Tennessee

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (July 9, 2020) — UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, is awarding $595,000 in Empowering Health grants to six community-based organizations in Tennessee to expand access to care and address the social determinants of health for uninsured individuals and underserved communities.

In total, UnitedHealthcare is donating $12.3 million through Empowering Health grants across 21 states. UnitedHealthcare launched its Empowering Health commitment in 2018.

More than half of the Empowering Health grants will help organizations increase their capacity to fight COVID-19 and support impacted communities. These grants will assist individuals and families experiencing challenges from social distancing, food insecurity, social isolation and behavioral health issues, which are among the most urgent needs resulting from the pandemic.

Grant recipients in Tennessee include:

  • Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee — $200,000 to expand access to fresh and nutritious food for people experiencing food insecurity in East Tennessee counties through the food bank’s Fresh Pantry program, Senior Outreach program and Mobile Pantry program.
  • Alliance Healthcare Services, Memphis — $125,000 to support two mental health clinicians for the Crisis Assessment and Response to Emergencies (CARE) Team as part of its Jail Diversion program, providing comprehensive mental health crisis assessments and connecting individuals who have a history of mental health needs with community resources.
  • Wesley House Community Center, Knoxville — $100,000 to provide food and supplies to homebound seniors, as well as childcare and food for essential health care workers.
  • Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association, Memphis — $95,000 to provide emergency home-delivered meals and telephone check-ins for vulnerable, homebound seniors.
  • Appalachian Miles for Smiles, East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia — $40,000 to provide comprehensive vision care services and eyeglasses through a mobile eye unit to patients who are uninsured or have low incomes.
  • YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South, Memphis — $35,000 to support food for Shelby County School students at 50 meal sites.

“This unprecedented environment has compounded challenges faced by Tennessee’s most vulnerable residents and created further barriers to accessing the health care and services they need,” said Keith Payet, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee. “Our support of these organizations in Tennessee through this UnitedHealthcare Empowering Health commitment will help provide critical aid and resources to the communities in Tennessee that need it the most.”

Providing access to better health in high-risk and high-need local communities is a profound challenge. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, nearly 80% of what influences a person’s health relates to nonmedical issues, such as food, housing, transportation and the financial means to pay for basic daily needs.

The Empowering Health grants bring to more than $100 million UnitedHealth Group’s efforts to fight COVID-19 and assist impacted communities by supporting vulnerable populations, protecting the health care workforce and advancing breakthrough innovations in testing and treatment.

In addition to UnitedHealthcare’s support in Tennessee, the company has launched similar community initiatives and public-private collaborations nationwide focused on addressing social determinants of health. UnitedHealthcare has invested more than $500 million in affordable-housing communities since 2011, partnered with food banks and meal-delivery services, and last year joined with the American Medical Association to standardize how social determinants of health data is collected and used to create more holistic care plans.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.3 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.

The Christman Company advances in national contractor ranking

The Engineering News-Record (ENR), a news outlet known as the authority for tracking the construction industry, has placed The Christman Company (Christman) at #88 on its 2020 “ENR 400” list of the top 400 contractors nationally, a jump from the company’s 2019 ranking of 93. Overall rankings were calculated according to 2019 construction revenue.

Christman also landed at #90 on the 2020 ENR list of Top 100 Contractors by New Contracts.

“It is an honor to again be named in ENR’s top 100 national contractors, this year rising to #88. We are fortunate for continued growth in today’s ever-changing environment,” Christman President and CEO Steve Roznowski said. “We are thankful to our clients, partners and Christman team members who made this possible. We will continue our focus on client outcomes and relationships, while keeping our promise of building with integrity.”

Significant projects from the company’s Knoxville office contributing to the top-contractors ranking include:

  • Tennessee Technological University science lab; Cookeville, Tennessee; $80 million
  • Tennessee State Veterans’ Home; Athens, Tennessee; $39 million
  • Neyland Stadium improvements; Knoxville, Tennessee; $131.7 million
  • University of Tennessee Energy and Environmental Science Research Building; Knoxville, Tennessee; $78 million
  • East Brainerd Elementary School; Chattanooga, Tennessee; $18 million

“We are honored to be listed at Number 88 by ENR in their list of Top Contractors for 2020,” said Marty Gibbs, vice president at the Knoxville office. “Rising five places from last year is a testament to the hard work and commitment of the experts, leaders and partners that make up the Christman team. It is truly a great place to work.”

Locally, The Christman Company has earned the top spot as the No. 1 general contractor in the Knoxville area for three years in a row based on local billings.

The Book of Lists, compiled by the News Sentinel, ranks the area’s companies in multiple industries, including construction, education, health care and technology. The Christman Company recorded 2018 revenue of $144,577,529 and 48 local employees. Significant and recent local projects include the 395,088-square-foot University of Tennessee Student Union and the State Street Garage expansion, which added 570 parking spaces in downtown Knoxville.

The Christman Company has offices in Lansing, Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Raleigh and Greensboro, North Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; and in the Washington, D.C., metro area. For more information, visit http://www.christmanco.com, and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

About The Christman Company

The Christman Company, founded in 1894, is one of the country’s leading professional construction services firms. The company’s award-winning services include construction management, general contracting, design/build, program management, real estate development, self-perform and millwork services. Christman specializes in a variety of construction markets, including government, higher and K12 education, industrial and power, healthcare, and corporate office. Ranked at 88 in the Engineering News-Record ENR 400 top contractors nationally and 54 in the ENR 100 Construction Management-at-Risk firms, Christman has more than $4 billion in construction underway managed by 485 professional employees across five states throughout the Southeast U.S., the Midwest, the Southwest U.S., and the Mid-Atlantic. For more information, visit https://www.christmanco.com, and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

MEDIC Regional Blood Center to host Summer Cookout Promotion

Knoxville, TN – MEDIC Regional Blood Center will host its’ first Summer Cookout Promotion July 20 – 24 and will include a special edition t-shirt, donor incentives and several giveaway items including a grill.

Each summer, MEDIC sees a decrease in donations while hospitals have an increased need for blood supplies. The Summer Cookout Promotion will help increase inventory as well as provide extra amenities for donors.

“During the summer months, we typically see fewer donors and the pandemic has had a huge impact,” says Kristy Altman, Director of Communications and Donor Engagement. “We want this to be a special week for our donors while also collecting the blood and blood-related products needed by our 25 hospitals.”

MEDIC continues to follow social distancing guidelines and is requiring masks for all donors, staff and visitors in their donor centers and community drives/mobile buses. MEDIC staff will be grilling hot dogs and will serve those individually as well as offering chips and drinks.

The schedule for cookouts includes:

  • 7/20 – Athens Donor Center – 11 AM to 3 PM
  • 7/21 – Crossville Donor Center – 11 AM to 3 PM (CST)
  • 7/23 and 7/24 – Ailor Avenue Center and Farragut Donor Center – 11 AM to 5 PM

Additionally, MEDIC is pleased to announce the Farragut Donor Center will be open on Saturdays beginning July 11 through August 29 from 8 AM to 2 PM.

For more information, please visit the website at www.medicblood.org.

About MEDIC Regional Blood Center:

MEDIC Regional Blood Center is a nonprofit organization and the provider of blood and blood products for 25 regional hospitals in 22 counties. MEDIC relies tremendously on blood drives set up at businesses, churches, schools and community events, which accounts for 85 percent of the blood collected. Established in 1958 by Dr. Carl Nelson under the sponsorship of the Knoxville Academy of Medicine, MEDIC is an accredited member of AABB (formerly American Association of Blood Banks) and a member of America's Blood Centers. For more information, go to www.medicblood.org.

Harper Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Alcoa renews status as specialized Ram agriculture truck dealer to better serve area

Alcoa, Tenn. (July 8 , 2020) — Harper Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (CDJR) of Alcoa has renewed their commitment to their area farm community by retaining their designation as an official RAM Agriculture Dealership.

“Trucks are a critical tool on the farm and ranch, especially during the spring/summer season,” noted Bill Blair, general manager for Harper CDJR. “The work of the farm and ranch cannot be delayed, and it CANNOT be conducted without them. That is why we, with the Department of Homeland Security "Essential Industry" designation, have elected to remain open during this critical spring/summer season, in service to our farm and ranch customers.”

The Ram Agriculture Dealership designation enables Harper CDJR to be able to offer a specialized AgPack package to farmers that provides a first ever return on their truck investment. The AgPack partner offerings are worth thousands of dollars to farm customers and lets the nearly 65,900 farm families in Tennessee know the dealership understands the uniqueness of agriculture. Farmers who purchase a new Ram truck from Harper CDJR can then access AgPack.

This truck industry exclusive AgPack package includes:

  • Special financing from AgDirect®, powered by Farm Credit®, offering flexible payment terms to match a farm’s income stream.
  • Exclusive rebates on Michelin & BF Goodrich tires – from tractors to trucks to toys, savings over $5,000
  • 25% off MSRP on Rhino Ag Products plus a gift card valued between $100-200
  • Ram exclusive 5-10% under dealer cost direct from Dixie Chopper on their entire line of commercial mowers
  • 1-year subscription to AgriEdge, valued at $5,000
  • $2,000 credit towards AgroLiquid Crop Nutrition
  • $1,000 toward a new Reinke Irrigation system and $500 towards parts on any existing Reinke system
  • 25% Ram exclusive rebates on many Gallagher Livestock scales and fencing products
  • Ram exclusive after purchase rebates up to $350 on EBY truck bodies and uplifts
  • Ram exclusive after purchase rebates up to $1,000 on EBY trailers - stock, equipment, or grain
  • Ram exclusive after purchase rebates up to $500 on EBY flatbeds and truck upfits

Plus, all these benefits can be stacked on top of any manufacturer or dealer incentives currently being offered. To see this exclusive offer only available through a Ram Agriculture Dealership go to: https://www.ramagdealer.com/

To retain this elite dealer group designation as a Ram Agriculture Dealership, Harper CDJR is required to maintain a minimum of three team members who have successfully completed an agricultural training program, created by farmers and ranchers, that has been peer reviewed for agricultural and educational correctness, and carries several industry endorsements.

Harper CDJR also continues to participate in continuing education that extends their knowledge of everything important to Tennessee agriculture, as it happens in real time. Ongoing education, combined with what the ag specialists learned through the Ag Awareness curriculum, will help the dealership to be an educated partner with area agriculture by pro-actively anticipating and meeting the changing demands of its farm customers.

To learn more about the program call any of the Ram Agricultural Specialists at Harper CDJR 865-658-4125. Or stop by and visit them at 3033 Alcoa Highway, Alcoa TN 37701, or at www.ramagdealer.com/ram-agpack-promo

Roane State selected as pilot location for Intuit’s Financial Management for Entrepreneurs Curriculum Initiative

Roane State is one of just 11 colleges in North America recently accepted into the Financial Management for Entrepreneurs Curriculum Initiative Phase II. The pilot program is the result of a partnership between the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) and Intuit, maker of TurboTax, QuickBooks and Mint.

The pilot’s main goal is to empower future entrepreneurs with the right financial management tools and skills required for long-term business success, according to a news release from NACCE. Using this curriculum, future and current entrepreneurs will have a solid foundation of how to manage their business finances and their own personal finances.

Intuit launched the Financial Management for Entrepreneurs Curriculum Initiative in 2018 targeting an initial six community colleges across the nation. Intuit and NACCE have selected additional colleges to participate in this initiative for 2020. Roane State is the only college from Tennessee selected and is one of only two colleges from the southeastern U.S. to be chosen for this phase.

A grant will provide software access to participants enrolled in classes and dynamic training modules for instructors and participants. Classes will be primarily offered to non-credit participants through the Cumberland Business Incubator (CBI) in Crossville and through other Roane State campus locations.

For additional details about the new Intuit training for entrepreneurs, small businesses and those interested in starting their own business find more information at the following link: roanestate.edu/?12523-Intuits-Financial-Management-for-Entrepreneurs.

Roane State’s Workforce Development division currently offers a variety of in-person and online training for local business and industry. For a full listing of course offerings, please visit www.roanestate.edu/workforce or contact Kim Harris at harriskb@roanestate.edu.

The Cumberland Business Incubator at Roane State in Crossville offers a variety of in-person and online training, business coaching and other support services for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Available amenities include a Maker Space to produce products and other spaces available for lease. For more information, visit the Cumberland Business Incubator online at cumberlandincubator.com, send an email to cbi@roanestate.edu or call (931) 456-4910. Holly Hanson, the CBI Director, can be contacted at hansonha@roanestate.edu.

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has locations in Roane, Campbell, Cumberland, Fentress, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, and Scott counties as well as a branch campus in Oak Ridge. For more information, visit www.roanestate.edu.

Bandit Lights Boards and Boats at Blackberry Farm

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE – Bandit Lites returned to the picturesque countryside of Blackberry Farm for Boards and Boats, where guests of the world-renowned resort could spend a weekend partaking of wakeboard, wakesurfing and boating. In addition to tips and demonstrations from MasterCraft, the weekend concluded with a delectable dinner and a concert featuring Americana artists Chatham Rabbits.

Bandit Lites supplied a lighting package comprised of Chauvet Freedom Pars, GLP X4 Atoms, and Gantom lights as well as the event’s staging complete with Edison bulbs, conjuring a mood of rural elegance.

“The Chauvet Freedom Pars were used to control the color of the room environment itself by placing them along the walls of Bramble Hall,” explained Bandit Lites Nick Brown. “The GLP X4 Atoms were used as our front light, and the Gantoms served as a low backlight.”

Even with the fickle Tennessee weather of the Smoky Mountains, Bandit Lites’ team was prepared when the decision was made to move the concert indoors into Blackberry’s Bramble Hall. With its reclaimed wood walls and rustic beams, cupolas and fireplaces, Bandit kept the lighting focused on highlighting the natural elegance of the space, adding to the ambiance without distracting.

a group of people on a stage in front of a curtain: Chatham Rabbits performs in Blackberry’s Bramble Hall with lighting selection provided by Bandit Lites. © Submitted Chatham Rabbits performs in Blackberry’s Bramble Hall with lighting selection provided by Bandit Lites.

“The design direction for the event was simple ambience and minimalistic,” finished Brown. “There wasn't a huge need for over the top lighting.”

Everything Blackberry Farms does is steeped in thoughtfulness and attentiveness and Bandit is proud to partner with them.

“Blackberry is all about excellence, and we always strive to deliver excellence in all aspects of production we provide,” said Bandit Lites General Manager Giff Swart. “It is always a pleasure to work with the folks at Blackberry Farm!”

About Bandit Lites, Inc.

Bandit Lites is a global leader in the entertainment lighting marketplace. From touring productions to fixed installations, Bandit Lites has a full staff of highly trained professionals to deal with all types of lighting needs. Bandit’s global presence will ensure seamless transitions no matter where your next show takes you. More information available at www.BanditLites.com

Conklin Metal Industries opens distribution center in Knoxville

ATLANTA, July 7, 2020 -- Conklin Metal Industries, a 145-year-old, family-owned company based in Atlanta, opened its first Knoxville location in June 2020.  Conklin, a leading distributor of all types of sheet metal and HVAC and duct-fabrication supplies, now has three locations in Tennessee and a total of 14 throughout the Southeast.  

“We are excited to now have a local presence in Knoxville after many years of serving the market from our locations in Nashville and Atlanta,” said Robbie Thompson, president of Conklin Metal Industries.  “The strength of the East Tennessee market and growing demand from our customers made it clear that it was time to open a Knoxville branch.  Being in close proximity to our customers offers great advantages in service and frequency of delivery.  We look forward to taking our service to the next level for our East Tennessee customers.  We will work hard to significantly grow our business in Knoxville, Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City and other markets.”

a group of people standing in front of a sign posing for the camera: Conklin Metal Knoxville team © Submitted Conklin Metal Knoxville team

The 40,000 square-foot Knoxville branch is located on Prosser Road in East Knoxville.  Conklin stocks the largest selection of sheet metal and sheet metal forming machinery in the Southeast.  As a one-stop shop for every component used in the construction and installation of a commercial or residential HVAC duct system, Conklin’s customers include sheet metal contractors, mechanical contractors and HVAC contractors that specialize in service and replacement.  Knoxville residents and long-time HVAC industry veterans Marshall Scott and Mike Monroe will serve as branch manager and territory sales manager, respectively.

Based in Atlanta, Conklin Metal Industries is a family-owned business employing over 200 people.  The company’s founding dates back to 1874 in downtown Atlanta.  Conklin Tin Plate and Metal Co., the company’s name at the time, dominated the tin metal industry in Georgia at the turn of the 20th century. With the advent of air conditioning in the late 1930s, Conklin experienced increasing demand for sheet metal used to fabricate ductwork. The company currently ranks in the Top 50 of HVACR Distributors in the U.S.  Robbie Thompson and Harry Thompson IV represent the fourth generation of Thompson family leadership for the company.

Cannon & Cannon transitions ownership

Cannon & Cannon is excited to announce effective July 1, 2020 a formal and internal transition of ownership was completed.

We are pleased to introduce four familiar faces in the position and role of ownership structure at Cannon & Cannon.

  • Houston Daugherty, PE, Chief Executive Officer
  • Tim Tucker, PE, Chief Operations Officer
  • Wain Gaskins, PE, West TN Operations
  • Mickey Jones, CPA, Chief Financial Officer

Our foundational beliefs, professionalism, client focus and service to others remain unchanged. Our Commitment to Service that we have built and insist on will guide future decisions as we grow together in our community. Thank you from Cannon & Cannon. We are proud to be able to serve and help those around us.

Yamaha Right Waters, Anderson Marine sponsors $10,000 motor for Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful work boat

Representatives from Yamaha Right Waters and Anderson Marine will present a Yamaha outboard motor valued at more than $10,000 to Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB). At the presentation, the motor will already be mounted to the nonprofit’s 25-foot aluminum work boat that they use to host volunteer cleanups throughout the 652-mile Tennessee River. Yamaha Rightwaters™ is a national sustainability program that encompasses all of Yamaha Marine’s conservation and water quality efforts. Program initiatives include habitat restoration, support for scientific research, mitigation of invasive species, the reduction of marine debris and environmental stewardship education.

KTNRB is a 501c3 nonprofit that serves as the first Keep America Beautiful affiliate in the nation to focus solely on a river. In 2019, KTNRB removed more than 48,000 lbs. of trash with the help of its workboat, ongoing partnerships, and more than 400 volunteers.

The presentation will take place Tuesday, July 7, 2020 @ 1 p.m. CST, at Anderson Marine Family Boating Center, 841 Robinson Road; Old Hickory, TN.

For more information, visit www.KeepTNRiverBeautiful.org or follow Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful on social media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/KeepTNRiverBeautiful

Twitter: @TnRvrBeautiful

Instagram: @KeepTNRiverBeautiful

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Knoxville Biz Ticker: Macilveen introduces A Mortgage Boutique in Knox County

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