Knoxville TN invaded by elves

The concept of having an elf on your shelf is nothing new, but downtown Knoxville has taken the playful idea and transformed the city into a giant Elf on the Shelf Adventure for the holidays now through January 7, 2018; This event is a fun-filled holiday scavenger hunt for the young and young at heart as they search for Santa’s magical helpers in downtown Knoxville.

Scout Elves have already been sent from the North Pole by Santa to more than two dozen Knoxville businesses. Participants may visit any of the participating locations and pick up an Elf on the Shelf North Pole Pass. Then, participants collect a store stamp at each Scout Elf sighting…and continue the adventure throughout downtown Knoxville.

Diligent seekers collecting twenty or more stamps will be entered to win grand prizes of downtown merchandise and gift cards. There will also be lots of fun, treats, and additional prizes along the way.


Johnson named to Hall of Fame

KNOXVILLE, TN – Johnson Architecture founder and president Daryl Johnson has been named to the Jackson Alumni Hall of Fame in Jackson, New Jersey, in recognition of service to the community. Founded in 1994 by Daryl Johnson, AIA, Johnson Architecture is a design firm that provides architecture, planning and full in-house interior design services for facilities of all types.

Daryl Johnson

The Jackson Alumni Hall of Fame was established in 1991 to recognize graduates who have made significant contributions to their communities through charitable service and to offer scholarships to graduating seniors at Jackson high schools. Johnson, a Jackson Memorial High School graduate, said he continues to watch with interest the happenings in his hometown and appreciates the Hall of Fame’s investment in graduating seniors.

“I am truly honored to have been chosen for this recognition and especially appreciate that the Hall of Fame supports students who excel academically and through community service,” Johnson said. “I look forward to seeing the great things accomplished by the students earning scholarships.”

Johnson Architecture has designed various sized projects for numerous purposes, including commercial, educational, health care, residential, restaurant, tourism and spiritual. Notable clients include Blackberry Farm, Dollywood, Cornerstone of Recovery, First Presbyterian Church, Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation, Clayton Homes, Maryville City Schools, Maryville College, South College, RT Lodge, J.C. Holdway Restaurant and Zoo Knoxville.

Attorney to speak to writing group

Mark P. Crockett, an attorney with the intellectual property firm of Luedecka Neely, will speak on Thursday, October 5, 2017 on the topic “What Writers Must Know About Libel, Slander, and Copyright.” This informal but expert presentation will be at 7 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of Central United Methodist Church, 201 East Third Street. Admission is a suggested donation of $2.

Plentiful, free parking is available in lots to the back and side of the church, which is wheelchair accessible. Along with cookies and coffee, you’ll find KWG hospitality and community support.

Crockett will cover such questions as: If you write memoirs, how can libel laws affect you? When and how can you safely incorporate another person’s work in your own? How do you protect your own work? If you are reading your work aloud, what laws apply?

Crockett is a cum laude graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. Please note that while he will give an overview of writers’ legal rights and responsibilities, he will not address individual cases or give legal advice. He will tell audience members how to protect themselves and when to get professional help. Participants will learn how to save themselves a lot of trouble and protect their creative work. This program is essential for anybody serious about writing!

The Knoxville Writers Guild welcomes your participation. Membership is $30 and $15 for students. Visit

Babalu Tapas & Tacos hires new chef

Babalu Tapas & Tacos has hired T.J. Saunders as executive chef of the downtown Knoxville restaurant. In this role, Saunders will oversee the culinary staff and create boldly flavored dishes featuring authentic, gourmet tacos and Spanish-style tapas with a southern twist.

“Chef Saunders’ culinary experience is paired with the enthusiasm and passion we look for when making a new addition to our team,” said Dee Hust, general manager of Babalu Tapas & Tacos Knoxville. “Chef Saunders impressed us from day one, and we look forward to seeing his creativity and innovation in the kitchen impress our guests.”

Saunders’ mother started teaching him to cook when he was in the third grade growing up in Lansing, Michigan. He then decided to follow in the footsteps of his role model, Julia Child, an iconic American chef, author and television personality.

“I even did a school report on how I wanted to be a chef when I grew up,” Saunders said. “I am excited to join Babalu’s team and help continue the restaurant’s great success in Knoxville. I look forward to introducing new savory dishes to the menu that I know diners will enjoy.”

Prior to joining Babalu, T.J. Saunders served as executive and regional chef for Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee. He previously had served as executive chef at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Knoxville, Diverse Concepts in Knoxville and Café Del Mar in Del Mar, California. He served as a sous chef at Four Seasons Resort Aviara in Carlsbad, California, and at the Ritz-Carlton in Dearborn, Michigan. Photo submitted.

Saunders trained under the direction of five certified master chefs in the Culinary Arts program at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan. Before starting his culinary career, he served as corporal in the United States Marine Corps and earned two Meritorious Mast for Operation Desert Storm.

Saunders and his wife, Spring, currently reside in Knoxville with their three children, Jack, Madeline and Gabrielle. In his free time, Saunders enjoys fitness and team training, spending time with family and traveling.

IRR announces business merger

Integra Realty Resources  in Jackson/Gulfport and Integra Realty Resources in Memphis have announced a merger that will expand IRR’s services in the Mid-South region. IRR offices in Jackson, Gulfport and Memphis — covering Mississippi, western Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas, provide commercial real estate consultation services.

“We’re expanding our resources and our ability to serve clients more productively and opening up new markets within specialty valuation practices,” said James “Jim” Turner, MAI, director of appraisal production for the combined offices.

IRR – Memphis’ focus in multi-family residential and industrial valuations and litigation joins IRR – Jackson/Gulfport’s expertise in multi-tenant office and retail, right-of- way, going concern business and large retail and hospitality valuation. The team now includes seven MAI-designated appraisal professionals and eight additional appraisal analysts on staff.

John R. Praytor, MAI, serves as senior managing director in Jackson. J. Walter Allen, MAI, is senior managing director in Memphis. Recent promotions include Michelle Alexander, MAI and a HUD approved MAP appraiser, to managing

director of multi-family residential valuations; Jonathan Stone, MAI, to director of industrial valuations; Eugene K. “Kenny” Owen Jr., Certified General Appraiser, to director of going concern business, hospitality, convenience store and self storage valuations. Jennifer C. Rigby, MAI, will serve as director of quality control and appraisal review, and Leslie R. North, MAI, will serve as managing director in Gulfport and support quality control for the south Mississippi market.

Writers guild offers open mic

If you were thinking about joining a writer’s group to promote your work, now would be an excellent time to join the Knoxville Writers’ Guild. Members of the Knoxville Writers’ Guild will have an opportunity to read their work at the Guild’s annual Open Mic Night on Thursday, July 6, 2017.

The event, which will be open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of Central United Methodist Church, 201 3rd Avenue. A $2 donation is requested at the door. Parking is plentiful and free.

“The annual Knoxville Writers’ Guild’s Open Mic program is one of our most popular of the year. It is a great way to hear the work of other writers and have a good time,” said President Donna Kapa.

To ensure as many people as possible have the chance to read, the Guild follows these guidelines:

1) You must be a current member of the Knoxville Writers’ Guild to read your work. You may join or renew your membership at the event ($30, with discount to $15 for students). There will be a sign-up sheet at the door for readers. Writers sign up on a first come, first serve basis.

2) You may only read your own work or that of another KWG member with their written permission.

3) Podium time is two to three minutes maximum, depending on the number of people who sign up. Three minutes is about one and a half double-spaced pages. A reader’s time includes any explanation, set-up or backstory. There are no exceptions. Readers should time their segment in advance.

4) The content of what you read should be suitable for a general audience.

Attendees are also invited to bring a book to swap with fellow writers. If your book is not picked up, you are welcome to leave it behind to become a raffle item at a future Guild meeting. Book swap starts at 6:30 before the Open Mic.


Business networking event offered

Small and midsized businesses interested in working with local governments can meet with up to 20 municipalities, plus multiple tradeshow vendors, in one stop at the East Tennessee Purchasing Association’s (ETPA) 12 th Annual Business Matching and Tradeshow event on Thursday, July 20, 2017.

The event will be held from 8:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Rothchild Conference and Catering Center, 8807 Kingston Pike in Knoxville. Registration is free for attendees.

Attendees will be able to connect with cities, counties and other agencies to get information about their purchasing processes and contract opportunities. In addition to the tradeshow, breakfast and lunch sessions with governmental procurement agents will be available.

“It’s really beneficial for both parties,” said Penny Owens, business-matching chair for ETPA. “The businesses are able to meet with all of their potential customers in one stop instead of traveling all over East Tennessee, and the governmental buyers are able to meet with all the vendors in one place, too. Additionally, businesses can network with the tradeshow vendors to make it a very productive day.”

The East Tennessee Purchasing Association seeks to establish relationships among its members for the development of efficient purchasing methods and practices in the field of educational, governmental and public institutional procurement. For more information, visit

Bliss businesses moving to Gay St

Knoxville, Tn. — Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes have announced the businesses will move from 24 and 29 Market Square to a new location on Gay Street. Bliss opened at its current location in 2003, making it one of the oldest retail businesses currently operating on Market Square.

Tori Mason Shoes opened just under a year ago due to an expanding shoe department within Bliss. Scott Schimmel and Lisa Sorensen’s Bliss Home brand currently has locations in west Knoxville, Nashville and a location in Louisville, KY scheduled to open July 2017.

The new location will be in the Miller’s Building at 445 Gay Street and will combine both Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes. The move will increase the total square footage of retail to 6,500 square feet from the existing 4,600 square feet.

“While we will miss Market Square, we are looking forward to this new opportunity. Gay Street has continued to change over the years and we are excited to be part of the continuing growth of retail there,” says Scott Sc​himmel.

​Bliss and Tori Mason Shoes will continue to be open in their current Market Square locations until the new location is complete. Anticipated occupancy is Fall 2017.

TVBA hosts networking event

The Tennessee Veterans Business Association (TVBA), a nonprofit organization that provides entrepreneurship training, business development assistance and networking opportunities for military veterans and their families, hosted a networking event in Knoxville May 11, 2017.

The event was held at Villa Collina, the lakeside mansion of TVBA president and entrepreneur Dr. Eric W. Barton.

Jonathan Williams, a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, founded TVBA in 2010 after starting his own business and recognizing the need for a local association of veteran business owners. Barton recently assumed leadership of TVBA and is eager to expand its reach and impact for Tennessee’s military veterans.

“I look forward to lending to other veterans my expertise as president and CEO of 23 companies, ranging from a transportation and logistics business to a state-of- the-art horse ranch,” Barton said. “I’m eager to work with Jonathan to expanding the reach of TVBA and help other veterans across Tennessee start their own businesses or find the right job opportunities.”

The organization offers multiple levels of membership and is open to veterans and veteran-owned businesses. Membership fees are waived for individuals who are active duty or one-year removed from active duty.

For membership information and to join the organization’s email list for notification about future events, visit

The TVBA provides entrepreneurship training, business development assistance, and networking opportunities to military veterans and their families. The organization also assists veterans in finding rewarding employment and supports the work of both public and private sector organizations who offer charitable support to current service members and veterans. For more information and to join, visit

The Tennessee Veterans Business Association (TVBA) held a relaunch event at lakeside mansion Villa Collina on May 11. Program participants, from left, included TVBA President Dr. Eric W. Barton and founder Jonathan Williams, along with Jason King, program director and lead instructor for Peak Technical Institute. TVBA is a nonprofit organization that provides entrepreneurship training, business development assistance and networking opportunities for military veterans and their families. Photo courtesy TVBA.

Farmers Market opens May 3

Beginning May 3, 2017, the Market Square Farmers Market will be open for business. This popular market has become for many an attraction and destination for finding fresh, local food. Every Wednesday and Saturday from May through November, rain or shine, you’ll find this open-air farmers’ market in the heart of Downtown Knoxville.

Everything at the market is grown or made by the vendor in the East Tennessee region. Products vary by season and include produce, eggs, honey, herbs, pasture-raised meat, bread, baked goods, salsas, coffee, artisan crafts, and more. Explore the daily map of vendor booths for each market or just come explore, taste some samples, and meet your friends and neighbors for a great day out in the Square.

11am – 2pm

9am – 2pm

The Market Square Farmers market offers a variety of fresh, local foods grown and raised by East Tennessee farmers. The market is open rain or shine. Photo by Celebrate Knoxville.

Bike To Work Day is May 19

May is National Bike Month and there are all kinds of rides and events happening in Knoxville, Tennessee to celebrate. Here are a few opportunities to get you connected:

Bike to Work Day
Fri, May 19
7:30 – 8:30 a.m.
Stop by Market Square as you ride your bike to work and grab coffee donated by Trio and a treat.

Meet at one of these locations to join a guided ride:

6:45 a.m., Halls. Meet at Ace Hardware in Halls Center. 6950 Maynardville Pike.
7:15 a.m., North Knoxville. Meet at Office Depot/Food City parking lot on Broadway, 4212 N Broadway.
7:15 a.m., East Knoxville. Meet at Holston River Park, 3300 Holston Hills Road (top parking lot by pavilion).
7:15 a.m., Bearden. Meet at Third Creek Greenway trailhead, 130 Forest Park Blvd.
7:30 a.m., South Knoxville. Meet at 3701 Sevierville Pike (southeast corner of Sevierville Pk and Lancaster).

Here are other options for a reward for biking to work on Friday, May 19, 2017:

Makers Donuts – free donut
Old City Java – free cup of coffee
Wild Love Bakehouse – free cup of coffee
Three Rivers Market – free drink (under $2)

I Bike KNX Bike Month Discounts
Have you taken the I BIKE KNX safe bicycling pledge? If so, you should have received your free I Bike KNX helmet sticker. Many local businesses show their support for bicycling by offering discounts or freebies when you bike there and show your I Bike KNX helmet sticker to the cashier during May.

Spring bike class sessions
The free 30-min classes are customized just for you! We can help you learn how to: start biking again, ride safely in traffic, ride a bike, ride without training wheels, or use your gears to make riding easier and more fun. Classes will be held at the new Suttree Landing Park, 701 Langford Ave (near Island Home).

Sign up here for sessions on April 29 and May 6. After the free session, if you or your child need more instruction, we offer classes at your convenience: $10 for 30-min or $15 for 1 hour (shorter classes are best for younger kids). Just email to request a class.


Fresenius Medical hosts job fair

Fresenius Medical Care’s newest pharmaceutical manufacturing plant is beginning to staff for their first shift of production located in the Forks of the River Industrial Park. The job fair sessions will be held Thursday, April 6, 2017. Two sessions are scheduled from 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm at the Fresenius Mfg. Plant – 5105 S. National Drive, in Knoxville.

Interested candidates can visit or to review job details and apply.

Fresenius Medical Care North America was voted one of Forbes’ America’s Best Employers (2015) and provides renal care products and services, including state-of- the-art dialysis machines, dialyzers and pharmaceuticals.

The American Job Center tour bus facility will be on-site during the event with a career coach to provide assistance to job seekers with applications, resumes, and interviewing.

Orchid Awards presented March 7

Keep Knoxville Beautiful will host the annual Orchids Beautification Awards at the Standard at 416 West Jackson Avenue on March 7, 2017 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. The deadline for purchasing tickets is this Friday, March 3.

From 6:00 until 7:00, there will be a complimentary beer and wine reception with a floral beer specially brewed and donated to the event by Balter Beerworks. During the reception, guests may bid on silent auction items donated by local companies such as Bliss, Smoky Mountain Vintage Lumber, TVB, Knox Whiskey Works, Ijams Nature Center, Meadowsweet Massage and Wellness, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, and many more.

Keep Knoxville Beautiful’s three goals to promote a “cleaner, greener, more beautiful Knoxville” will be highlighted by a photo-booth, a beer garden, and with a live painting by muralist Perry Hodson. Guests will enjoy live music by the Old City Buskers.

The ceremony and dinner will begin at 7:00 and will be emceed by Dino Cartwright of WVLT. Keep Knoxville Beautiful will announce its next Community of the Year, the area of Knox County where it will focus the majority of its efforts during the 2017-18 year.

Gale Fulton, Director of the School of Landscape Architecture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville will be the night’s guest speaker. Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero will also be in attendance, and will present the first Felicia Harris Hoehne Award. Dino will present the Orchids Awards to a winner from each of the following six categories: Outdoor Space, Public Art, Restaurant/Café/Bar/Brewery, New Architecture, Environmental Stewardship, and Redesign/Reuse. Finally, Tom Salter, Solid Waste Director at Knox County, will close the night by presenting the Mary Lou Horner Award to a previous Orchid winner that has been improved or remains “orchid-worthy.”

A list of all nominees can be found at

The deadline for purchasing tickets is this Friday, March 3. Individual tickets are $85 each and tables for 10 are $750. Tickets can be purchased at All proceeds benefit Keep Knoxville Beautiful’s programs.

Keep Knoxville Beautiful is a local non-profit with a mission to promote a cleaner, greener, and more beautiful community.

Knoxville’s Chris Hornsby goes solo

KNOXVILLE, TENN.— Chris Hornsby, a Tennessee artist and president of Hornsby Brand Design, a Knoxville-based branding design firm, was selected for his first solo exhibit at the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center in Clarksville, Tenn. This show runs from Mar. 7 until May 4, 2017, and features 10 pieces of artwork from his “Fracture” series, which range in size from 43″ x 43″ to 90″ x 90″ and consists of 98 canvases. The Opening Reception is slated for Thurs., 5 p.m., Mar. 9, 2017.

Chris Hornsby has shown his work in a variety of states and venues, including the nation’s art capital New York City, but the one-man show at the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center is his first solo exhibit. Photo submitted.

Hornsby said, “Art is a personal passion of mine of which I’m grateful to express both in my branding design business as well as in my fine art pieces. To be able to show and share my artwork is always quite an honor, but to have a one-man show in one of the state’s leading fine art museums is something that I’m very excited about.”

Inaugurated in 1898, the Customs House Museum is located in the heart of historic downtown Clarksville and is Tennessee’s second largest general museum with more than 35,000 square feet of exhibit space, 20,000 permanent pieces, and hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Hornsby’s “Fracture” series was born out of the artist’s exploration of dark and light fractured imagery used to express his vision of struggle, pain, defeat, and victory. Based on the complex interaction between control, contradiction, and humanity’s violent struggle to succeed, Hornsby experiments with shapes, mediums, ideas, and positions, birthing images that are unexpected, revealing, and exciting. He describes the rearrangement and juxtapositions of his design forms as expressions of raw emotional openings and “an evolution of experimentation and discovery.”

Hornsby has been applying his artistic skills in a variety of capacities after earning a BFA in graphic design from the University of Georgia. He has garnered more than 100 creative awards, been inducted into the Knoxville’s American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Fame, as well as being published in numerous prestigious design annuals such as Print and How.

In addition to his dedication to a successful career, Hornsby proactively gives back to the community both monetarily and through donations of his time and talent to various regional, state, and international non-profits.

In his off time, he exercises his creative talent by continually exhibiting his sculptures and paintings, including a recent exclusive show in the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition’s “Black and White Show.” This show, of which his artwork was selected from 1,358 nationwide entries, garnered him a cash prize and an honorable mention awarded by NYC’s art elite, Christiane Paul, the Curator of Media Arts at the prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art.

Hornsby is also being featured in the April 2017 issue of Nashville Arts Magazine.

KKB presents 2017 Orchid Awards

Keep Knoxville Beautiful will host its annual Orchid Awards dinner on March 7, 2017 at 6:00 at The Standard, 416 W. Jackson Avenue. The evening will include live music, live painting by muralist Perry Dodson, a silent auction with complimentary beer and wine reception, dinner, and the awards ceremony. Gale Fulton, Director of the School of Landscape Architecture at the University of Tennessee, is the speaker.

Awards will be presented to winners in six different categories: Environmental Stewardship, New Architecture, Outdoor Spaces, Public Art, Redesign/Reuse, and Restaurant/Café/Bar/Brewery.

“Each year the list of nominees reveals a snapshot of the progress and values of our developing city,” stated Keep Knoxville Beautiful Executive Director Patience Melnik. “The Redesign/Reuse category continues to be our strongest, with projects exemplifying the continued rebirth of downtown Knoxville. We were also very pleased to see a big jump in the number of strong contenders for the Public Art award. And while there were only three Environmental Stewardship nominees, they are large or culturally significant projects. As an organization with an environmental mission, we are especially excited about these additions to our community.”

The nominees for New Architecture are the Local Motors Microfactory, the Market Square Restroom Facilities, Mountain Commerce Bank, the Natalie Haslam Music Center, and the Student Union at the University of Tennessee. The nominees for Outdoor Spaces are the Baker Creek Preserve, the Blueberry Falls Extension at the University of Tennessee, Hank Rappe Playground at Lakeshore Park, the Old City Gardens, the Secret Garden at the Knoxville Botanical Garden Arboretum, and Suttree Landing Park.

The nominees for Public Art are the Alliance Brewing Company mural, the Chilhowee Park mural, the Jerry’s Artarama mural, Pat Summit Plaza, The Emporium Center Underground Mural, and the Third Creek Greenway mural.

The nominees for Redesign/Reuse are Anderson and Rahman Dermatology, Geo Hair Lab, the Locust Street Pedestrian Bridge, Lululemon Athletica, Patricia Nash Designs, the Powell Airplane Service Station, the Depot at Powell Station, Premier Surgical Associates at Papermill, The Daniel, The Mill and Mine, the Kennedy-Walker-Baker-Sherill House, the 6th Avenue Warehouses, and the 1894 Saloon Building.

The nominees for Restaurant/Café/Bar/Brewery are: A Dopo Sourdough Pizza, Alliance Brewing Company, Balter Beerworks, J.C. Holdway, Juice Bar in Market Square, K Brew, Lonesome Dove, Remedy Coffee, Schulz Bräu Brewing Company, and Wild Love Bakehouse.

Additionally, The Mary Lou Horner Beautification Award will be granted to a former Orchid Award winner whose property remains Orchid-worthy.

Keep Knoxville Beautiful is honored to have the East Tennessee Community Design Center serve as judges of the dozens of award nominations.

The nominees for Environmental Stewardship are the Beardsley Farm Education Center, the City of Knoxville Public Works Complex, and the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials.

For tickets, please visit

All proceeds benefit Keep Knoxville Beautiful’s programs.

New works displayed at Emporium

The Arts & Culture Alliance is pleased to present five new exhibitions at the Emporium Center in downtown Knoxville from March 3-31, 2017. A public reception will take place on Friday, March 3, from 5:00-9:00 PM to which the public is invited to meet the artists and view the artwork. Most of the works are for sale and may be purchased through the close of the exhibition. The First Friday reception also features music and dance by Pasion Flamenca from 6:00-6:30 PM and live music by Swing Serenade from 7:00-9:00 PM. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be available.

Abingdon Arts Depot – Juried Members Exhibition in the lower gallery
The Arts & Culture Alliance is pleased to present a new exhibition of mixed media works by 27 members of the Depot Artists Association in Abingdon, Virginia.

Image: Jose Roberto: The Art of Surrealism in the Balcony gallery
“When I was a little boy, I put my hand in a meat grinder and lost most of my left arm,” says artist Jose Roberto. That was the beginning of his life as an artist.

“The loneliness and isolation I experienced during childhood now allow me to delve into the deepest realms of my emotions and release them at will onto the image,” Roberto says. “My subjects are usually emotionally-charged themes brought about by my own life experiences.”

The exhibit also includes new work by Coral Grace Turner in the display case; “New Beginning” by Joe Bracco on the North Wall; and Vintage Re-Inventions: Steampunk Creations by Eric Holstine, Jason Lambert, and Jason Edwards in the Atrium.

The exhibitions are on display at the Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay Street, in downtown Knoxville. Exhibition hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. For more information, please contact the Arts & Culture Alliance at (865) 523-7543, or visit the Web site at

Bliss Home expands into new market

Knoxville-based Bliss Home furniture store recently announced that the company is expanding and will open its first location in Louisville, Kentucky in Westport Village. It is the retailer’s first expansion outside of the Tennessee market. Bliss Home is expected to open its doors in Spring of 2017 in the site formerly occupied by Gattiland at 1108 Lyndon Lane in Louisville.

Bliss Home in Westport Village will feature 24,000 square feet of casual contemporary furniture for your living room, bedroom, dining room and office. They will also feature regional products, art and accessories. Bliss Home also has a staff of designers who can go on-site to revamp client homes through their In-Home Design program.

“We absolutely fell in love with Louisville during one of our many visits here. We have been so impressed with the southern hospitality of the tenants at Westport Village. It’s one of the main reasons we chose this location,” said owners and husband and wife team of Scott Schimmel and Lisa Sorensen. “Like our philosophy, Westport Village has a strong focus on a small store feel and a sense of community. This was an easy decision and we knew this was a market where we could build on our success and support our new neighbors at Westport Village.”

The couple opened the first of the Bliss stores in 2003 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Knoxville store Rala expanding

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Knoxville gifts store Rala announces that it is expanding and moving to one of the commercial spaces at The Daniel in the Spring of 2017. The business, currently located at 323 Union Avenue, will open at its new location at 112 W. Jackson Avenue on Friday, March 3, 2017.

Owner Nanci Solomon says “We are thrilled to announce our expansion and move to the vibrant arts district of downtown Knoxville. After finding out that our lease would not be renewed in our current location, we looked around for a new space and found the perfect fit at the recently renovated John H. Daniel Building. The larger space will allow us to hold events, add contemporary home goods and accessories, expand our greeting card selection and feature more original art. We look forward to joining our new neighbors in the burgeoning Old City area just in time for the celebration of art on First Friday in March.”

Solomon is working with local artist and architect, Brian Pittman, of Johnson Architecture, Inc to design Rala’s new space. The Daniel partners, Ron Turner and Jon Clark, will manage the build out.

Rala opened in 2010 as a place where Knoxville could show off its rich community of artists and makers. They provide a venue for modern goods and gifts made with love by artists from around the corner and across the world.

Rala will remain open at their current location at 323 Union Avenue until the end of February 2017. Hours of operation will remain the same: Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m -6 p.m.

Locals provide relief from wildfires

Tennessee State Bank, the Dollywood Foundation and WIVK radio have partnered for the My People Fund to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the recent East Tennessee wildfires, according to TSB President and CEO Todd Proffitt.


The Dollywood Foundation will provide $1,000 a month to families who lost their homes in the fires for six months so they can get back on their feet. To help in this effort, donations can be made at any TSB location, which includes branches in Sevier, Knox, Cocke and Jefferson Counties or at the Dollywood

“Tennessee State Bank offers thoughts and prayers of support to all affected, which includes some of our own TSB families who were touched by the recent fire disaster,” Proffitt said. “We are thankful to all who have responded to this crisis; with willingness to serve in any capacity. Tennessee State Bank is blessed to be part of this community and stands ready to participate in the healing and rebuilding process. We are grateful to live and work in the Volunteer State.”

Tennessee State Bank is a locally-owned and operated community bank headquartered at 2210 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. The bank consists of 15 branch locations throughout Knox, Sevier, Jefferson and Cocke counties. The bank is a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) member and an Equal Housing Lender.

Visit or on Facebook at

Orchid Award nominations sought

Keep Knoxville Beautiful is now accepting nominations from the public for its beautification awards, the Orchids. Since 1979, Keep Knoxville Beautiful has presented Orchid Awards to Knoxville and Knox County buildings and outdoor spaces that beautify and elevate the local landscape.

Orchid Awards will be granted in the following categories:

New Architecture



Outdoor Space (Parks, Patios, Rooftop Gardens, Neighborhoods, etc.)

Public Art (Murals, Sculptures, Signage, etc.)

Environmental Stewardship (Properties that incorporate renewable materials, energy efficiency, LEED certification and/or other sustainable building practices)

Anyone can nominate a location or outdoor public artwork by completing a simple online form on Keep Knoxville Beautiful’s website,, or by calling the office at 865-521- 6957. Private residences are not considered for this award. Properties that received an Orchid Award since 2007 are ineligible except in cases of major renovations. For a list of previous winners, visit the Keep Knoxville Beautiful website.

Nominations are due by Friday, December 16, 2016.

Keep Knoxville Beautiful is honored to have the East Tennessee Community Design Center serve as judges of the dozens of award nominations. Keep Knoxville Beautiful will announce the winners of the beautification awards at the annual Orchids Awards Dinner on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 6:00 at The Standard, 416 W. Jackson Avenue.

For more information, contact Keep Knoxville Beautiful at


Johnson Architecture raises $ for charity

Knoxville’s Johnson Architecture Inc. team was out in force at the recent Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk at the University of Tennessee’s Circle Park. The team was formed to support firm partner and leukemia survivor Rick Friel and raised to-date $12,024 for the 2016 event, second-highest among all teams, and a total of over $62,000 for the cause since 2009.


Participating employees, family members and friends for Johnson Architecture’s Light the Night Walk included, from left, front row: Eva Matthews, Ellie Biden, Meridieth Williamson, Cooper Williamson, Nicholas Riordan, Rick Friel, Cole Overton, Juliet Biden, Emily Haire and Titus Haire. Second row: Hannah Matthews, Sunny Biden, Colleen Riordan, Jack Riordan, Heather Overton, Kelley Hicks and Heather Ryan with son Trey. Third row: Danielle Hemsley, Karen Williamson, Josh Biden, Mike Riordan, Jeff Williamson, Daryl Johnson, Joey Staats, Shehara Hapuarachy and Jimmy Ryan. Photo submitted.

In addition, Johnson Architecture has earned an East Tennessee Preservation Award for its work on Maryville College’s iconic Anderson Hall renovation, which preserved the character of the 19th century building’s character while creating a state-of-the-art learning environment.

The ceremony was on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 in Morristown.

Todd Morgan, left, director of preservation field services for East Tennessee Preservation Alliance, joins Johnson Architecture’s Daryl Johnson, founder and president, and Danielle Hemsley, director of business development, at the East Tennessee Preservation Awards in Morristown on Nov. 4. Johnson Architecture was recognized for its renovation and restoration of Maryville College’s Anderson Hall, which preserved the iconic structure’s 19th century character while creating a state-of-the-art educational environment. Photo submitted.

New Summit Express Clinic opens

The Summit Express Clinic on Bearden Hill officially opened Nov. 1, 2016; the new clinic at 6537 Kingston Pike in Knoxville is only one mile from the current Wellington Drive location, but the short move is expected to reap big results for patients.

“The Bearden Hill location makes it possible for us to deliver the same services and same high level of care but in a better environment,” said Ranee Guard, vice president of diagnostic and therapeutic services for Summit Medical Group. “Bearden Hill’s Kingston Pike location is much more convenient, and we believe those coming to us for care will appreciate the clean, modern look and feel of the new facility.”

Located next to Calhoun’s in the Sequoyah Place shopping center, the clinic includes five patient rooms. Like all Summit Express Clinics, it is a full-service care center designed to fulfill the everyday and after-hours needs of area residents, whether or not they are under the care of a Summit Medical Group physician. The clinic provides medical treatment, laboratory and X-ray services seven days a week, and walk-ins are welcome.

Summit Express Clinics also are located in Farragut and Fountain City.


Representatives from Summit Express Clinics and the Knoxville Chamber participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Summit Express Clinic on Bearden Hill on Nov. 3. Pictured from left: Knoxville Chamber Ambassadors Jay Cobble and Christa Early; Wendy Hall, Ranee Guard and Elizabeth Vanzant of Summit Express Clinics; Ashleigh Adkins of Knoxville Chamber; and Knoxville Chamber Ambassador Rebecca Darnell. Photo submitted.

Horror fest pays tribute to genre

by Laura Long. —Last night’s short films screenings for the Knoxville Horror Film Festival at Scruffy City Music Hall showed the growing popularity of the genre as well as increasing diversity among fans and participants of the festival. Organizers William Mahaffey, Nick and Kim Huinker, and volunteers scrambled to take care of the packed venue as attendance numbers exceeded expectations.

“We actually had to go downstairs to get more chairs, which was great,” Mahaffey said in a phone interview with Celebrate Knoxville. “Having the last night and awards at Scruffy City (which seats between 150 and 200 including the balcony) gave us greater visibility than we had before at Relix (Variety Theatre).”


Horror fans gather at Scruffy City Music Hall in downtown Knoxville for the last night of the Knoxville Horror Film festival held October 21-23, 2016. The evening screenings included eleven short films and the feature “Beyond The Gates,” which won the festival’s Special Jury Prize, Emerging Vision award. Photo by Laura Long.

Editor’s Note: “Beyond the Gates features an Elvira-ish performance by Barbara Crampton, known for her roles in Re-Animator (1985), Chopping Mall (1986), From Beyond (1986), Castle Freak (1995), You’re Next (2011), and We Are Still Here (2015).

Mahaffey said that Scruffy City Music Hall in Market Square also provides the event with better quality projection screening and sound, along with an on-staff technical person to help with challenges that sometimes occur with film festivals. Even though the submission requirements for format are specific, things happen. This year, there were some glitches, and Mahaffey said they rescreened a couple films on a different day once the problems had been worked out.

“We had 150 submissions for the festival this year, ten from Tennessee, with more female directors and more female involvement that ever before,” Mahaffey said, also acknowledging that Sunday night’s short film audience also had more people of color than in years past.


This year’s Knoxville Horror Film Festival also included an earlier screening of Phantasm 3, from the 1979 franchise and fan favorite that often lands on best-of lists. Here, a decorative take on the the well-known deadly orbs from the Phantasm films line the festival stage at Scruffy City Music Hall. Photo by Laura Long.

“Horror is huge right now, and indie horror is big, and I am amazed at the number and popularity of television programs available right now with horror themes, including The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, the Exorcist show, and Ash vs. Evil Dead,” Mahaffey said.

Fans of the Knoxville Horror Film Festival say one of the best features of the festival is the FREE monthly events that occur in other places around town that help promote the event. Attendance has grown, as well as the number of corporate sponsors. The Grindhouse Grindout local film part of the festival, which encourages local filmmaking, is one way that organizers hope to encourage local films. Utilizing the talents of local artist Adam Deal (who designs the T-shirts, swag, and web presence) helps to connect artists of all kinds to the event each year.

“We’ve grown a lot since that one night at Pilot Light (Venue in the Old City) eight years ago to the three-day festival we have now plus monthly events,” Mahaffey said. “I work on the festival year round.”

The Knoxville Horror Film Festival features awards for 2016 include:

Beyond The Gates

Fury of the Demon

Angela Trimbur, Trash Fire

Michael St Michaels, The Greasy Strangler

Bobby Miller, The Master Cleanse

Trash Fire

Trash Fire


Awarded to Cauchemar Capitonné and Death Metal

When Susurrus Stirs

Death Metal

Cauchemar Capitonné


Najarra Townsend, The Stylist

Pierre Teulières, Le Plan


The Call of Charlie


Bobby McGee, Ghost Hunter

Bobby McGee, Ghost Hunter


Toothless (There’s Something Wrong With The Power)

Operation (Iron Swann)

My Best Friend’s Husband And My Ex Diddled My Stepdaughter (Team Honey Cat)

Punk Rock Flop House Massacre (Bottomless Pit)

The ensemble in Teen Immortals vs The Nephilim (Fig City)

My Best Friend’s Husband And My Ex Diddled My Stepdaughter (Team Honey Cat)

Teen Immortals Vs The Nephilim

1. Teen Immortals vs The Nephilim (Fig City)
2. F***ed IV Death (70/30)
3. tied between Rip It (Mad House) & Punk Rock Flop House Massacre (Bottomless Pit)

The Two Sides of the Red Curtain (Skitchbook & Flashpoint Creative)


Books donated to Knox Library

Copies of “The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt” have been donated to Knox County Public Library. Summitt was the winningest coach in the history of NCAA Division I basketball. With 1,098 victories and eight national championships, she established the Lady Vols as the top women’s athletics program in the country.

Knox County Public Library offers more than 1.5 million books, periodicals, compact discs, films, audiobooks and downloadables through 19 locations across Knox County including one of the premier historical and genealogical collections in the Southeast.

“We are very grateful for this generous donation,” said Janet Drumheller, head of collection development for Knox County Public Library. “Pat Summitt will always be such an inspiration to our community, and we are so happy to share her story with our patrons through Maria’s book.”

Summitt was diagnosed with early onset dementia in 2011 and coached her final season in 2011-12. Summitt died June 28, 2016, at the age of 64.

The book was authored by Moxley Carmichael writer/editor Maria M. Cornelius. The public relations firm made the donation of the books to the library.


Janet Drumheller and Mary Pom Claiborne, both of Knox County Public Library, accept 20 copies of “The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt” from Alan Carmichael, far right, and Maria Cornelius, both of Moxley Carmichael. The books will be in circulation at every library branch and the main downtown facility. A book also will be placed in the permanent and non-circulated collection at McClung Museum. Photo submitted.

Medicare information sessions planned

Medicare Advantage through BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee will be hosting free informational sessions this fall to educate seniors about the healthcare options available to them. Statewide, there are about 361,000 people enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Lisa Wright, principal consultant and other Medicare advocates from BlueCross will be holding educational meetings all across the state that are free and open to the public. Anyone wanting to learn more about Medicare Advantage is welcome to attend. Below is a list of meetings scheduled for East Tennessee. All meetings are scheduled for 10 a.m.

Knox area meeting locations include:

Oct. 26, Hilton Garden Inn, 216 Peregrine Way, Knoxville
Nov. 4, Clarion Inn, 5634 Merchant Center Blvd., Knoxville
Nov. 28, Hilton Garden Inn, 216 Perigrine Way, Knoxville
Founded in 1945, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee serves more than 3.4 million members in Tennessee and across the country. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association.

For more information, visit the company’s website at

Celebs pump for United Way

Local officials and media personalities will help Pilot support the United Way of Greater Knoxville during the 24th annual Pilot Celebrity Pumpers event Oct. 10-12, 2016. Pilot Celebrity Pumpers is the single-largest special event fundraiser for the United Way of Greater Knoxville’s annual campaign. The 2015 event tallied a record $90,400, and since its inception, the event has raised more than $1 million for United Way.

During the three-day event, Pilot will donate five cents per gallon and 10 cents for every $1 spent on inside sales at all Knox County locations to the United Way of Greater Knoxville.

“Our customers’ dedication and support for this event and the United Way for the past 24 years has been astounding,” said Jim Haslam, Pilot founder. “Knox County is so lucky to have media personalities, elected officials and other celebrities who are generous to donate their time on behalf of the United Way and its partner agencies that do great work year-round to help those in need.”

Celebrity pumpers this year include Pilot Flying J NASCAR driver Michael Annett, University of Tennessee Athletics Director Dave Hart and University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball Coach Holly Warlick, along with a host of other state and local officials and local television and radio personalities.

For a complete list of celebrity pumper times and locations, visit

Headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., Pilot operates 40 convenience stores in Tennessee.

Pilot Pumpers 2015 Logo

Writers group names contest winners

The Knoxville Writers’ Guild is proud to announce winners from the 2016 Annual Writing Contest at the Thursday, Oct. 6 meeting. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. in Central United Methodist Church’s Fellowship Hall at 201 E. Third Ave.

Attendees should enter off the large parking lot behind the church. A $2 donation is welcome at the door with free and accessible parking available.

This year, the KWG received more than 150 entries in the categories of poetry, creative nonfiction, novel excerpt, literary short fiction, and Young Writers. Several winners from these categories will read their winning entry at the meeting.

A complete list of winners will be available soon at

Fall great time to get a new tat

CELEBRATE KNOXVILLE – While you’re thnking about fall decorations, why not add a little color to yourself? This week Celebrate Knoxville paid a visit to Liquid Ink Tattoo to chat with artist Tony Maskevich about industry trends and to ask if Knoxville has its own tat vibe.


Tony Maskevich (pictured above) says he has worked as a tattoo artist since October of 1991, and since that time he has “heard it all from folks sitting in the chair” and has developed his own strict standards for a clean shop. He has even been a special speaker on industry standards at the University of Tennessee and has expanded his art into creating custom framed artwork (including airbrush) as well as custom design and installation of signage for other businesses. Photo by Laura Long Martin for Celebrate Knoxville.

“Tennessee has some pretty strict standards for this work, but I go even beyond that,” Maskevich says. “You saw my daughter in the lobby, right? I want this shop to be clean enough for me and for my family, as well as for all my clients. Some of the things I do here, (he points with a gloved hand to disposable plastic coverings on the ink lines from his machine and on containers on his desk) aren’t law, but I do them anyway.”


Cleanliness and hygiene are always important for Liquid Ink Tattoos, and they are inspected six times a year, Maskevich said. Fines for health inspection infringements can range from $50 to $500. The company has strict standards that go beyond what the law requires, and the excellent inspections history for the company is a testimony to high standards.

As far as trends go, Maskevich says geometric patterns from Europe are making their way into the Knoxville market, as well as tattoos designed to look like watercolor paintings. In urban cities like Knoxville, Tennessee, he sees a lot of steampunk, mandalas, and a lot of images that morph into other images like M. C. Escher paintings. As often as he can, he goes to conventions such as Tattoo Carnival of Mayhem in Pasadena, Texas, to learn tricks of the trade from other artists and to keep up with trends.

“Tribal will never go away,” he says, referring to designs that look like black and white drawings. “And I can’t tell you where those designs came from in the beginning, but now it is a standard in this business.”

Editor’s Note: Wiki says the word “tattoo” comes from the Polynesian word “tatau”, meaning “to write.”

Traditional tattoos refer to enduring symbols of a variety of nations and cultures, such as tigers, eagles, stars, swords and other weapons, and fire.

“Traditional tattoos are old school, and are respected designs among equipment makers and ink manufacturers,” Maskevich said. “That would be like the tiger with the sword through his head, or the nautical star, which is considered by some to be a reminder to seek balance in life (star points north, to find your way home).” Other symbolic designs may indicate that a person has spent time in prison (cobweb), survived a suicide attempt (semicolon) or witnessed and/or committed a murder (teardrop).

Maskevich says in 26 years in business he has heard many stories from clients, and since tattoos can be deeply personal, there is a measure of confidentiality to his work. He loves clients that bring in art that they want him to duplicate, but sometimes gets annoyed with people who bring in a photo from Pinterest and want that exact tattoo, which is a challenge sometimes, especially if the design is complicated.


Maskevich says he works hard to produce the style of work clients are looking for, if not that specific design. Costs for a simple tattoo start at about $60 and can go up into hundreds, even thousands of dollars for large pieces, such as back pieces, or sleeves that cover part or all of an arm. Clients that also want body piercing can choose from a wide variety of jewelry at the shop. Gift certificates are also available.

The business often gets involved with fundraisers, and in October this year Liquid Ink plans to donate a portion of the proceeds to a friend, Bobbi Foster, who is a survivor of breast cancer.

Does Knoxville have its own tat vibe?

“Every state has tattoos that are popular for that place,” he says. “Here in East Tennessee, you better stock up on orange (ink).”

Liquid Ink is located at 12215-B Chapman Highway in Seymour, Tennessee. Call for an appointment at 865-333-5963.

Knox Heritage hosts fall events

Knox Heritage has a lot going on for fall 2016, including a “behind the scenes” look at the restoration of the Farragut Hotel in downtown Knoxville and the Big Bash at Buck Brothers celebrating the restoration of the historic Rexall Building in Lenior City.

Be among the first revelers to celebrate the return of the Buck Brothers Building on October 22, also known as the Waller or Rexall Building. This century-old icon on Broadway in downtown Lenoir City is being restored and we are celebrating its history as a mercantile business, drug store, and dance hall. Enjoy flavors from the past and present with dishes that are Loudon County favorites. Start the evening with a trip back in time at the Lenoir City Museum next door. Then progress into the exciting Buck Brothers project to meet and hear from the developers Diane Powell and Mark Uhran. Dine and dance the night away to a premier band.


The “Behind the Scenes Tour” of the historic Farragut Hotel is October 21, 2016. This free event for Knox Heritage members will allow guests to see the $22 million transformation of this local icon while it’s underway thanks to Dover Development. The end result in 2017 will be a Hyatt Place Hotel that respects the historic character of the building. Festive beverages and savory snacks will be served.

Not a member of Knox Heritage yet? All memberships include your entire household and free admission to at least two “Behind the Scenes Tours” each year, our Preservation Awards Celebration in November, early access to Summer Suppers tickets, plus discounts at local retailers and restaurants and other perks.

For more information, email to or call the Knox Heritage office (865) 523-8008.

Parsons is Writers Guild speaker

Noted poet Linda Parsons will speak at the Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016 meeting of the Knoxville Writers’ Guild. She will present her new and fourth poetry collection, “This Shaky Earth” (Texas Review Press, 2016), and discuss the process of preparing a collection.

The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. in Central United Methodist Church’s Fellowship Hall at 201 E. Third Ave. The event is at the same time as the first UT football game of the season, but you can click here to find a route that bypasses the traffic. Attendees should enter off the large parking lot behind the church. A $2 donation is welcome at the door with free and accessible parking available.

“‘This Shaky Earth’ straddles time, family divisions and legacies. It’s leavened with a hunger to understand the growing pains of childhood and to know that all will be well as we navigate this sometimes ‘shaky earth,’” Parsons said. “I’m excited to discuss the process and challenges of compiling and organizing a collection for publication.”

Parsons is a member of the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. Her poems have appeared in journals such as The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Asheville Poetry Review, and Shenandoah and in numerous anthologies. Her play adaptation, “Macbeth Is the New Black,” co-written by Jayne Morgan, completed runs at Maryville College and Western Carolina University. In October, she will present the Henrietta Jenkins Memorial Homecoming reading at Carson Newman University.

Food Truck event pairs well with wines

CELEBRATE KNOXVILLE – In spite of the hot summer temperatures, Knoxville residents turned out in droves for the Food Truck Park held on Thursday evening at Blue Slip Winery’s downtown location at the historic Southern Railway Station. Venor trucks parked in the back parking lot from 5 pm to 7 pm and offered foods from Asian spring rolls to tacos to barbecue, as well as desserts like ice cream and donuts.

Blue Slip Winery owners Linn Slocum and Jeff Galyon say the Food Truck event is just another step in their business plans to “promote local” with events, a brand new Bistro with full bar and menu, and of course, handcrafted wines made from Tennessee grapes.

Beginning in 2009, the business was formerly located on Jackson Avenue in the Old City and is Knoxville’s first urban winery.


When Blue Slip Winery moved to the Southern Railway Station in 2014, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero praised the location for the new business, saying that the area was “walkable and bikeable,” and featured ample parking. Those words rang true at the Food Truck event Thursday as attendees easily navigated with bikes, kids, and dogs. Many brought their own lawn chairs. Photo by Celebrate Knoxville.

“The Food Truck event has been really successful for us, a natural pairing of great food and drink and local music as well,” Slocum said, as she poured tastings at a table outdoors. “We have two brand new wines to share with the community, and we hope folks will continue to visit us and try them out. The Bistro located inside is open Monday through Sunday from 11 am to 9 pm.”


Inside the Southern Railway Station building in the wine and gift shop, Blue Slip’s Brice Rayburn served behind the tasting bar and gave a description of the two new wines being featured. Photo by Celebrate Knoxville.

“The Railway Reserve is a mellow, smooth red with a subtle punch at the end, but in a good way,” Rayburn said. “The second new wine is Volunteer Vinifera, which is a white with a blend of complex flavors, hints of musk and peach, and the dry part just creeps up on you at the finish.”

The Food Truck event has been so popular that Slocum says it is a regular event for them and will be held every third Thursday throughout the summer and fall.

—CelebrateKnoxville, 2016.

Bliss to open shoe store

Tori Mason Shoes, the latest in the Bliss family of retail stores, will open this summer in Market Square, downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.

“We are very excited about our newest concept. Bliss has carried shoes for several years, but embarking on this new adventure will give us the space to focus on offering a thoughtfully curated collection of shoes”, owner Lisa Sorensen notes.


Tori Mason Shoes in downtown Market Square will carry brands not readily available to the Knoxville client base: Bed Stu, Freebird, Jack Rogers, Miz Mooz and Dolce Vita. Photo submitted.

“Reinventing the 29 Market Square location gives us the space to offer more, all while providing fun experiences for customers like a selfie area”, owner Scott Schimmel adds.

Bliss History

In 2003, Bliss opened its doors in the Market Square location. In 2005 and 2008, two separate Bliss Home stores were opened, one downtown Knoxville and one in The Gallery in West Knoxville on Kingston Pike. In 2014, Bliss Home opened their first furniture store in Nashville, TN. All three Bliss Home stores offer casual contemporary furnishings, rugs and inspiring art and accessories.

Art Market seeks new members

Art Market Gallery in downtown Knoxville is currently accepting applications for a Sunday, August 28, 2016 membership jury. Acceptance for membership is determined by a jury of six active gallery members and is based on the quality of the applicant’s work; the applicant’s ability to be involved in a cooperative effort; as well as, the needs of the gallery. Currently the gallery is accepting applications from artists in 2D & 3D.

Prospective members may deliver four pieces of their work and completed application form with $30 jury fee to the gallery at 422 South Gay Street in downtown Knoxville.

Delivery may be made 11:00 am – 5:30 pm Tuesday, August 23 through Saturday, August 27th. Instructions and an application form are available at Prospective members are encouraged to read the application form carefully. If you have questions or need additional information contact, Mary Saylor at 678­596­4696 or

The Art Market Gallery, an artists’ cooperative, has provided a venue for a range of traditional to contemporary art and fine crafts for thirty years. Currently the gallery represents over 60 regional artists. Works include paintings in watercolor, oil, acrylic, pastel, mixed media; drawings; photographs; woodcuts, intaglio monoprints and other print techniques; collage; weaving, felting, silk painting and other fabric techniques; ceramics; woodworking; jewelry; sculpture; and works in glass. Potential applicants are encouraged to visit the gallery to get a sense of the fine quality of the work and the cooperative work environment.

Register for 2016 Governor’s Conference

Every salesman needs to know his product, says TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd, and if you have a business in Tennessee, you’re selling what we’ve got to offer. Ready to grow your business and take it to the next level? Registration is now open for the 63rd annual Governor’s Conference to be held this year at the Renaissance Nashville, 611 Commerce Street, in Nashville, Tennessee, from Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 7am – to Friday, Oct ober 28, 2016 at 1pm CDT.


Gov. Bill Haslam and TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd, along with hundreds of state and local officials, business executives and economic development professionals, will be on hand to present Team Tennessee’s innovative game plan and strategy.

Tennessee’s private sector employment totals 2.46 million jobs (Nov. 2015), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private sector employment in Tennessee has reached new records each month since April 2015; 40,400 net new private sector jobs have been created during 2015; 265,200 net new private sector jobs have been created since January 2011. There’s more to come in 2016 for “Team Tennessee,” the TNECD’s vision for the future prosperity for the state that includes all counties.

Come network and see why Team Tennessee has the strongest starting lineup in economic development today, filled with MVPs – the most valuable people, policies and programs.

Tickets are $270 for the full conference. For those who cannot attend the full conference, luncheon only tickets are also available. Register at

Urban Home & Garden tour offered

The East Tennessee Community Design Center (ETCDC) presents the inaugural Urban Home & Garden Tour Friday, Aug. 5, 2016 from 5:30-8 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 6, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Starting with the check-in station at the historic Phoenix Building, 418 S. Gay St., the tour will offer access to downtown Knoxville spaces with extraordinary outdoor components. Tickets for the event are $30 each, and all proceeds will benefit the Design Center.

“This self-guided tour of downtown will allow individuals to see creative outdoor features in downtown Knoxville that will inspire participants to truly utilize the outdoor areas around their own homes and see what downtown has to offer as a residential option,” said Wayne Blasius, executive director for the East Tennessee Community Design Center.

Featured properties on the tour include:

Crown Court Condos

Emporium Lofts

Gallery Lofts

Jackson Ateliers

Kendrick Place

Marble Alley Lofts

The Carson

The Holston

“Many people think they have to live outside the city center to have great outdoor options,” said Daryl Johnson, ETCDC board member and Urban Home & Garden Tour committee chair. “The Urban Home & Garden Tour will overturn that assumption, and attendees will enjoy residential buildings that are rich with history and fresh with original design and charm.”

For more information, visit

KWG hosts playwright Lisa Soland

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Award-winning author and playwright Lisa Soland will speak on “What the Playwright Can Teach the Writer” at the Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016 meeting of the Knoxville Writers’ Guild.

The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. in Central United Methodist Church’s Fellowship Hall at 201 E. Third Ave. Attendees should enter off of the large parking lot behind the church. A $2 donation is welcome at the door with free and accessible parking available.

At this meeting, Soland will showcase the dramatist’s craft to help writers improve their work.

“I will share tips and tactics, articulate conflict, and reveal character through action,” Soland said. “Writer’s dialogue can be stronger, characters more credible, and dramatic conflict more riveting. This is a great opportunity to gather practical advice and help narratives leap off the page.”

Lisa Soland has more than 40 internationally published plays and four children’s books. She has produced and/or directed over 80 productions and play readings, 55 of them original. Ms. Soland teaches privately, in the theatre department of Maryville College, and throughout the U.S. Soland is currently writing a one-man play on the life of World War I hero, Sgt. Alvin York, scheduled to open in the fall of 2017 at York’s childhood home in Pall Mall, Tenn.

The Knoxville Writers’ Guild exists to facilitate a broad and inclusive community for area writers, provide a forum for information, support and sharing among writers, help members improve and market their writing skills and promote writing and creativity. Additional information about KWG can be found at

Gerdau raises $2000 for research

Representatives of steel recycler Gerdau’s Knoxville mill recently held their fourth annual golf tournament benefiting primary amyloidosis research. The rare and devastating disease took the life of former Gerdau Knoxville vice president and general manager Arlan Piepho at age 63.

The tournament raised $2,000 for donation to the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine in Piepho’s memory. The donation supports a research team led by Dr. Alan Solomon seeking to find better treatments for primary amyloidosis.

“The golf tournament was a fun time for a worthy cause,” Gerdau Vice President and General Manager Johnny Miller said. “We are honored to help make a difference in the lives of amyloidosis patients by supporting research that will help find new ways to diagnose and treat the disease.”

The golf tournament was held at Ruggles Ferry Golf Club and drew 55 participants.

Gerdau, a leading producer of long steel in the Americas and one of the largest suppliers of special long steel in the world, has a robust social responsibility program that focuses on providing community support in the locations where its business operates. Pillars under the social responsibility program are health and wellness, history and culture, education and affordable housing.

2016-05 Gerdau - Golf Tournament 3

Matt Woodward, Todd Wakefield, Allen Osborne and Don Kidd comprised the first-place team at steel steel recycler Gerdau’s annual benefit golf tournament at Ruggles Ferry Golf Club May 10, 2016. The tournament raised $2,000 for amyloidosis research at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine. Photo submitted.

Powell Kroger seeks mural artist

KNOXVILLE, TN – Kroger has announced a request for qualifications from interested artists for a large-scale indoor artwork to be located at the soon-to-be completed Kroger Grocery Store in the Powell neighborhood at exit 112 off Interstate-75. This 12.5’ x 5’ artwork will have high visibility and will be prominently displayed within the store. The artwork should use local references to evoke a creative, uplifting feeling that encourages community and celebrates the spirit of the neighborhood.

The deadline for qualifications to be received is Friday, July 1, 2016.

The call for entries is open to all artists 18 years and older residing in the greater Knoxville area.

Finalists will be chosen based on their examples of work, experience, and their connection to the Powell/Knox County community and asked to submit a proposal meeting installation requirements. Of the finalists submitting proposals, one will be selected to create the artwork for the new Powell Kroger opening September 2016. The deadline for selected finalists to submit their proposals is August 1. Payment to the selected artist is $7,500 including all materials. Visit for more information.

There is no application fee. To be considered, artists should submit up to three examples of their work (including title, medium, and dimensions), a brief resume, two professional references, and an explanation of their connection to the community to

Two Knoxvillians win SBA awards

The Small Business Administration’s Tennessee District Office recently presented the Tennessee Small Business Week Awards in Nashville. Two businesses in Knoxville received awards this year.

Distinguished winners of the Tennessee SBA Small Business Awards for 2016 are:

Tennessee SBA Small Business Person of the Year
Terence Douglas, President, Alliant Corporation, Knoxville, TN

Women-Owned Small Business of the Year
Angel Carrier, Tennessee Pour House, Gallatin, TN

Rural Small Business of the Year
Cherry Rains, Recycle Aerosol, LLC, Bells, TN

Minority Small Business of the Year
Terrell C. Carpenter, Carpenter Primary Healthcare, PLLC, Memphis, TN

Family Owned Small Business of the Year
Josh Knott, Cindy Knott, Knott’s Fine Foods, Paris, TN

Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year
Dennis Crossett, Performance Running of West Tennessee, Jackson, TN

Small Business Exporter of the Year
Jorge Sanabria, President, Expoquip, LLC, Knoxville, TN

The U.S. Small Business Administration was created in 1953 and since January 13, 2012, has served as a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.  Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.



Knoxville hosts fake wedding

KNOXVILLE, TN – Brides- and grooms-to-be are invited to attend Knoxville’s inaugural The Big Fake Wedding. This bridal show alternative in the form of a big, fake wedding takes place on Thursday, June 9, 2016 at 7:00 PM at The Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay Street, in downtown Knoxville.

Wedding guests for this promotional event are brides- and grooms-to-be who will enjoy experiencing local wedding vendors in action. Local married couple Katy and Casey Oliver will use the event to renew their wedding vows. The evening will include a catered cocktail-style dinner and reception and will showcase local wedding vendors. Tickets are $25.

Credited for changing the way future brides and grooms prepare to wed by The TODAY Show, The Big Fake Wedding has proved to be an innovative alternative to a trade-show style wedding expo. While The Big Fake Wedding is in the business of creating fake weddings, they continue to work towards their very real goals of promoting small businesses, inspiring brides and grooms, and encouraging solid marriages.

For more information, contact Suzanne Cada at 865-523-7543.

When you’re ready for the real thing, the Blue Slip Winery located in Knoxville’s historic Southern Railway Station in downtown Knoxville prides itself on providing a unique urban, historical, and truly Tennessee wine experience, as well as sharing our beautiful event space for special events ranging from weddings, banquets, live performances, and other private parties. Visit

Wilson joins Summit Medical

Summit Medical Group, one of the largest primary care based organizations in East Tennessee, is pleased to announce that Jean Wilson, FNP, has joined Summit Medical Group at Farragut as a family nurse practitioner.

Summit Medical Group includes 230 physicians and more than 150 advanced practitioners providing care at over 50 practice locations in 12 East Tennessee counties. Summit also consists of four diagnostic centers, mobile diagnostic services, seven physical therapy centers, three express clinics, a central laboratory and a sleep services center. Summit provides healthcare services to more than 260,000 patients, averaging over one million encounters annually. Summit’s Statcare division, which includes 70 of the group’s physicians and 40 of its mid-level providers, delivers superior care for hospitalized patients.

Wilson graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in nursing in 1981 and earned her MBA from Meredith College in Raleigh in 1988. A longtime family nurse practitioner, Wilson and her husband, Gene, have lived in the Farragut community for 29 years.


Summer Movie Magic begins

KNOXVILLE, TN – The Tennessee Theatre is pleased to announce the 18th annual Summer Movie Magic line-up presented by Denark Construction. Movie-goers will travel back in time and see these American classics as they should be: in a historic theater, with a bag of popcorn in their lap, and a cold drink in their hand. Come experience some of your favorite classics beginning in June 2016.

Both digital and 35mm films will be screened this year, and organists Bill Snyder and Freddie Brabson will play the Mighty Wurlitzer organ before each film.

Tickets can be purchased at the Tennessee Theatre box office, or by phone at 865-684-1200 and are $9.00 adult, $7.00 children under 12 and seniors 65 and over; Subscriptions are $45.00 adult and $35.00 children and seniors.

“Summer Movie Magic is a long-standing tradition at the Tennessee Theatre, paying homage to the theater’s history and legacy as a movie palace,” said Becky Hancock, the Theatre’s Executive Director. “From opening day in 1928 and every year since, the Tennessee’s movie screen has featured Hollywood’s most beloved films and created special memories for movie-goers of all ages.”

Denark Construction returns as the presenting sponsor of the beloved Knoxville tradition! “Denark Construction is proud to be the presenting sponsor of Summer Movie Magic at the historic Tennessee Theatre,” said president Frank Rothermel. “Denark was construction manager for the comprehensive renovation completed in 2005, and the Tennessee is very special to our team, just as it is to the entire community.”

The movie line-up this year includes Some Like It Hot (Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe); Casablanca (Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman); Steven Speilberg’s The Goonies; Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Audrey Hepburn); and Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock’s landmark masterpiece of the macabre stars Anthony Perkins as the troubled Norman Bates.


Showing August 12 and 14, 2016 at the Tennessee Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock’s landmark masterpiece of the macabre stars Anthony Perkins as the troubled Norman Bates, whose old dark house and adjoining motel are not the place to spend a quiet evening. No one knows that better than Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), the ill-fated traveler whose journey ends in the notorious “shower scene.” First a private detective, then Marion’s sister (Vera Miles) searches for her, and the horror and suspense mount to a terrifying climax where the mysterious killer is finally revealed. 

Located in the heart of downtown Knoxville, the Tennessee Theatre opened in 1928 as a movie palace. The Tennessee Theatre is the Official State Theatre of Tennessee and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Tennessee Theatre is the region’s leading performing arts facility with advanced technology, staging and lighting that draws top entertainment to the Knoxville area. The Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation is a nonprofit organization tasked with maintaining and preserving the historic theater and ensuring diverse arts and cultural entertainment remains in downtown Knoxville.

About Denark Construction

Denark Construction is a full-service general contractor, design-builder, and construction manager, based in Knoxville, Tennessee – with over 1 billion dollars in public, institutional, commercial, and industrial contracts since its launch in 1985.

KCAC announces promotions

The Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum (KCAC) has hired Brent Lackey as event manager, promoted Phillip Crawford to stage manager and promoted Jamie Cunningham to office manager.

Lackey is an event planning professional with more than 13 years of senior level experience in all aspects of large annual conference, event and expo planning. Most recently, Lackey served as training coordinator for UT Institute for Public Service Law Enforcement Innovation Center.

Crawford joined the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum in 2014 as building superintendent and earned his degree in sound engineering from The Institute of Audio Research in New York City.

Cunningham, a six-year veteran at KCAC, manages the front office; she earned the Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association Pauly Award for Service/Supplier Employee of the Year in 2016.

“We are excited to promote excellent employees and recruit the best talent to our management team,” General Manager Mary Bogert said. “Brent’s background in event management and customer service will be a big asset for event planners and promoters at our facility. As a six-year employee, Jamie’s elevation to office manager is well-earned through her dedication and attention to detail, and Phillip knowledge of the venue and its technical capacities helps artists who perform at our facilities shine.”


CEC breaks ground in Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, TN – Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus has announced that Civil Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC) will be the first private tenant at the research park, a move that brings the firm closer to its clients throughout the region and provides the needed custom design of office, laboratory and other space designated for maintenance and storage of technical equipment.

Consistently ranked among the Top 500 Design Firms and Top 200 Environmental Firms by Engineering News-Record, CEC is recognized for providing innovative design solutions and integrated expertise in the primary practice areas of civil engineering, ecological sciences, environmental engineering and sciences, survey, waste management, and water resources.

“We hope to provide a technical presentation series with the (University of Tennessee) College of Engineering for students and professionals,” CEC Vice President James Tomiczek said. “We’re particularly happy to be the first tenant of what will be a premier national research and development campus. We’ll be moving 25 local team members to this location, and we hope to see that number grow to 75 in the next five years.”

CEC already has an exceptional relationship with the UT College of Engineering and employs a number of its graduates, along with offering cooperative learning opportunities and internships to students. The increased access to Oak Ridge National Lab also will be beneficial, as CEC considers ways to integrate use of the lab’s supercomputer into some of the firm’s larger, more complex data-intensive projects.

“Increasing the number of Tennesseans with postsecondary degrees or credentials and making Tennessee the number one location in the Southeast for high quality jobs are our two top priorities,” Governor Bill Haslam said. “Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus gives us a tremendous boost in both arenas, and I applaud CEC for having the vision to recognize and embrace the opportunities this campus provides.”

Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus - Aerial Photo

Cherokee Farm is the only research and development park in the Southeast affiliated with both a major research university and a national research laboratory. It includes more than 77 acres along the Tennessee River and is a collaboration of the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Photo submitted.

Sales tax holiday coming early

The state of Tennessee’s annual sales tax holiday is held every year, beginning at 12:01 a.m. on the last Friday in July and ending at 11:59 p.m. the following Sunday night. During this weekend, certain goods may be purchased tax free. This year’s tax-free holiday weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 29 and ends Sunday, July 31 at 11:59 p.m.

Recent legislation has changed the date of Tennessee’s annual sales tax holiday. Tennessee’s sales tax holiday will now be one weekend earlier than it has been in the past. Starting in 2016, and continuing annually, the sales tax holiday will be held during the last Friday in July through the following Sunday. Previously, the sales tax holiday weekend was the first full weekend of August. The dates for this year’s sales tax holiday are July 29 through July 31, 2016. The new law did not change any other aspects of the sales tax holiday.

Purchases made from Tennessee retailers qualify. This includes retailers that sell through the Internet or a catalog, if those items are to be delivered into Tennessee.

What is tax free?

Clothing: $100 or Less
School Supplies: $100 or Less
Computers: $1,500 or Less

For more information, and a list of exempt items, visit

Free business tax workshop offered

The Tennessee Department of Revenue will be holding a free tax workshop for new businesses in Knoxville on May 11, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET at the Department’s Knoxville regional office, at 7175 Strawberry Plains Pike. The workshop will be held on the third floor.

These free workshops are designed to assist those encountering business-related taxes for the first time. Tax specialists from various local and state agencies will provide the basic information needed to comply with registration and tax requirements. During the session, attendees will have the opportunity to listen to these tax specialists, ask questions and receive materials explaining tax responsibilities.

Areas of discussion will include business tax, sales and use tax and tax enforcement procedures. Space is limited and registration is required. For more information, please call (800) 342-1003 (toll-free inside Tennessee) or (615) 253-0600 (local Nashville-area and outside Tennessee).

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department collects about 87 percent of total state revenue.

During the 2015 fiscal year, it collected $12.6 billion in state taxes and fees and more than $2.4 billion in taxes and fees for local governments.

To learn more about the Department, visit

South College hosts job fair

KNOXVILLE, TN – South College will host their annual job fair on Thursday, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., for its students and the community on campus at 3904 Lonas Drive in Knoxville.

“Seeking employment can be confusing, time-consuming and tiring,” said Gary Taylor, South College career services coordinator. “Having so many employers in one location should make the process much easier, and we hope that job seekers will take advantage of this opportunity to meet and speak with area recruiters.”

Human resource officers and recruiters will be on-site to review resumes and discuss employment opportunities with attendees. The representatives are seeking qualified individuals in health care, business, legal studies and other industries.

“Treat this career fair and any other opportunity like you would a job interview,” Taylor said. “In addition to an updated resume, it’s helpful to have a brief description of your work experience and the type of opportunity you’re currently seeking.”

Companies scheduled to participate in the job fair include: AFLAC, American Red Cross, Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Cellular Sales of Knoxville, City of Knoxville Civil Service Department, Clayton Homes, Covenant Health, Dollywood, EmployBridge, Homewatch CareGivers, Knoxville Police Department, Medical Solutions, Morristown Police Department, PhysAssist, Resource Accounting, Renaissance Terrace Assisted Living, RetireNDignity, Senior Citizens Home Assistance Service (SCHAS), Summit View of Farragut, Talbots, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee National Guard, University of Tennessee, University Physicians’ Association, US Foods, U.S. Navy, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Wellmont Health System and Westmoreland Health and Rehab Center.

About South College

South College is a private institution accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to offer programs at the doctorate, master’s, baccalaureate, and associate levels.

Decyfer Down makes music of love

CELEBRATE KNOXVILLE – Music Review by Laura Long Martin. Decyfer Down’s 40-day tour stopped at The Underground/Cincinnati last night, with a bill that includes Disciple, Seventh Day Slumber, Spoken and Children 18:3. Decyfer Down is touring in support of The Other Side Of Darkness, their latest album released yesterday.

This high-energy rock band has already seen success – with Grammy and Dove Award nominations for their second album, Crash, a trio of best-selling major label albums, and seven chart-topping singles.  And they view all their work as an expression of love, of faith in Jesus Christ. Celebrate Knoxville spoke with T. J. Harris, vocalist for the band, on the road to Arkansas this afternoon.

LLM: How was the show in Cincinnati last night?

TJH: Amazing! Haven’t been here since 2010, so it was good to be back.

LLM: Still listening to the new album, letting it sink in. My favorite cuts right now are the title track and Anchor Me, which is the best song for a circle pit, agreed?

TJH: Ha ha, maybe. Or Nothing More. Either of those.

LLM: How do you balance giving the fans that uber-rock anthem that they love you for already and giving yourselves some creative space to experiment?

TJH: When we’re writing, I think we just let ideas sit for a while and then come back to them later. We like the heavy, low, sludgy, swampy style, so we usually end up there.

LLM: Much of this album sounds retro, like you guys had a late night classic rock vinyl party and then went right into the studio. In particular, the title track, Other Side of Darkness has a blend of musical flavors – I hear Kansas, I hear Pearl Jam, and there’s that cool synth like Edgar Winter about two minutes into the song.

TJH: Yeah, yeah! We all grew up on 90s rock and we love that influence. With this album we wanted to return to what we were doing with our first album, return to our roots music but with more energy. That’s Brandon’s guitar, not a synthesizer. He has lots of pedal effects and adds those colorful, melodic pieces.

LLM: You’ve had tunes used major sporting events (UFC, WWE). how did that come about? Are you guys fight fans?

TJH: Not really fans, but if there’s a big event, we might all get together and watch it. The songs got shopped and “Fight Like This” really fit, so it found a spot.

LLM: You’ve played a double bill with Korn’s Brian “Head” Welch, who after he became a Christian, went back and mended relationships with members of Korn and even played some shows with them. Would you love to play more often with bands that are not faith oriented but have a similar sound or energy, like Foo Fighters, maybe?

TJH: We’d LOVE to play with Foo Fighters. Who wouldn’t? From a business point of view, that would be great for us, since they play much bigger audiences – our shows might be five or six hundred, and they play for tens of thousands. From a (spiritual) point of view, it would be great to tell an audience that big how good God has been to us.

LLM: On your web site, you guys said it is important to be real, even if that might make people uncomfortable, and rock and roll has always been dangerous.

TJH: Yep.

LLM: Care to elaborate?

TJH: I think that quote was about our Scarecrow album, where we wrote a song criticising Westboro Baptist Church. We felt strongly that we needed to address their hate. They say they are a Christian church, but really they are just a cult. We don’t want anyone to be misled.

LLM: Do you guys actually counsel people at shows?

TJH: Yep, that’s part of our ministry. We pray with people, we encourage them to get connected to a local faith family.

LLM: There’s the serious side. And the showmanship and entertainment biz plays a part too, right? There was a great story on Facebook recently, with the headline “Holy Spirit Unable To Move When Fog Machine Breaks Down.”

TJH: Ha ha ha ha!

LLM: I know you guys have a sense of humor; I’ve seen your videos. And when you’re playing a show, you get a variety of responses, right, because some people are just there for the music and nothing else.

TJH: Yeah, and sometimes I look out and see people with hands in the air, worshipping, just lovin’ on God. Or there could be a guy standing there with his arms crossed who never moves but later says he liked the show.

LLM: A variety of responses, like that parable about the sower, where the same seed falls on different hearts. One is hard-hearted, so nothing grows. Another jumps in but when persecution comes, they crash. But then there’s that sincere heart that receives the (seed) message and bears fruit. So what’s next for Decyfer Down?

TJH: Finish the tour, which ends April 30. We’re businessmen too, and we want to sell records, but we are an independent band. We make what we love.

–Celebrate Knoxville, April 2, 2016.

Decyfer Down:  TJ Harris – Lead Vocals, Christopher Clonts – Guitar, Brandon Mills – Guitar, Synth, Benjamin Millhouse – Drums, Percussion, and Chris Furr – Bass. Connect with the band at

Dogwood Arts names event chairs

Dogwood Arts has announced Knoxville business owners Eric Botts and Holly Hambright will serve as the 2016 Dogwood Arts Co-Chairs.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have both Eric and Holly representing Dogwood Arts in this, my inaugural season as Executive Director of this tremendous organization. I have had the good fortune of working with both of these servant leaders in previous roles within the Arts and Culture community and we’re fortunate to have them!” says Dogwood Arts’ Executive Director, Tom Cervone.

Dogwood Arts Co-Chairs serve as official community ambassadors for more than 15 Dogwood Arts events throughout the year.

Previous Dogwood Arts co-chairs include current board president Janet Testerman, Joan Cronan, Ken Lowe, the late Bobby Denton, Terry Turner, Alvin Nance, Mickey Mallonee and Eddie Mannis.

Dogwood Arts is a 501(c)3 organization with a mission to promote and celebrate regional art, culture, and natural beauty.  Since 1955, Dogwood Arts has been a Knoxville tradition that now produces more than 15 signature events, which include Art in Public Places, Dogwood Arts Festival on Market Square, Rhythm N’ Blooms, Chalk Walk, Knoxville Film Festival, Bikes & Blooms, and Bazillion Blooms.

New specialty shop opens

North Knoxville residents are invited to attend the Grand Opening of First Lady Specialty Shop for Women on Thursday, February 11, 2016. The event will begin with a ribbon cutting at 4 pm and continue with an open house until 5:30 pm.

Angela C. Farmer, owner of the new boutique, says the updated facility is located in the Cancer Center of North Knoxville Medical Center and has a dual role of servicing mastectomy and cancer patients as well as a ladies specialty boutique.


North Knoxville Medical Center offers comprehensive cancer diagnostics, treatment, and support services; state-of-the-art imaging services; and women’s diagnostic services and educational programs.

“We’ll be featuring several new product lines including a clothing line from Lior Paris and a natural skincare line by Amino Genesis,” Farmer said.

Light hors d’ oeuvres will be served at the grand opening. The North Knoxville Medical Center is located at 7557 Dannaher Way in Powell.

For more information, call 865-859-7010.

KWG hosts local publisher

Knoxville Writers’ Guild will host local publishing marketer Caitlin Hamilton Summie at their March 3, 2016 program.

The event, which will be open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m. in Central United Methodist Church’s Fellowship Hall at 201 E. Third Ave. Attendees should enter off of the large parking lot behind the church. A $2 donation is requested at the door. The building is handicapped accessible.

Hamilton Summie is a book marketer and publicist who works with small and large house authors, as well as the self-published, to promote their works. She is the former marketing director of MacMurray & Beck, BlueHen Books/Penguin Putnam, and founded her own firm in 2003. In addition to marketing, she has also published both short stories and poems, and was an independent bookseller.

“I’m excited to discuss publicity basics, the importance of marketing for authors, and take questions from local writers,” Caitlin said. “I want writers to know what it takes to make our voices heard in 2016!”

The Knoxville Writers’ Guild exists to facilitate a broad and inclusive community for area writers, provide a forum for information, support and sharing among writers, help members improve and market their writing skills and promote writing and creativity.

Be debt-free in 2016

If taking control of your money is one of your goals this year, you need to come up with a plan that’ll outlast your Valentine’s Day roses, says financial expert Dave Ramsey.  To make that happen, he says, you must begin with a plan to pay off your debts, beginning with the smallest one. This frees up more of your money to pay off even more debts, and you create a snowball effect. This changes you from being a person who buys what they can’t afford into a person who can afford to buy what they really want, in cash.

  1. Where do I want to be financially at this time next year?

Take a look into the future. Imagine yourself better off, money-wise, by 2017. What does that look like for you? Depending on where you are now and just how gazelle intense you want to get, you might have made a dent in your consumer debt, or you might be coasting through a fully funded retirement plan and gearing up to finally pay off your house. You’ll set yourself up for success by having a solid, definable goal in mind with a timeline in place to reach it.

Use an outline to help you break down your goals into tiny, bite-size pieces. Now pull out your calendar and start writing down your goals!

  1. How can I kick-start dumping debt for good?

The key to freeing yourself from debt is making a budget and sticking to it so you can see where your money is going. Try it out for about three months to get the hang of it and to see some patterns in your spending. Once you do, it’s pretty simple, and it can actually be fun! This is a habit worth starting.

Once you have a budget, you have to change your perspective. You have to hate being in debt. That’ll make you pay your bills off fast. That also means you might have to delay some things you really, really want. But if you slog through the painful stuff now, you’ll reap the rewards later.

  1. What are my biggest financial obstacles?

Change isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would be debt-free. That’s why you need to identify what’s held you back in the past and attack those obstacles head on. Do you spend money you don’t have? Is your accountability partner MIA? Does an endless stream of emergencies drag you back into debt as soon as you’ve gotten out?

Identify your weaknesses or stumbling blocks so you can protect yourself from them when you’re feeling tempted or backed into a corner. Where are you spending your time? Are your priorities lining up with your goals?

So, now that you’ve faced the hard questions, are you ready to make 2016 your best year yet? With the right level of determination and a little bit of planning, you can be debt-free.

For more ideas on how to get control of your finances, visit


New Knoxville restaurant to open

Drake’s Knoxville, which features a diverse menu and craft beers on tap, will open in early February 2016 at the Centre at Deane Hill shopping center near West Town Mall, creating 110 new jobs in the market. Owned by Lexington, Kentucky-based Bluegrass Hospitality Group, this is the company’s second restaurant in Tennessee and its eighth location.

“Our restaurant combines very different vibes from a laidback lunch spot to an all-out nightclub,” said Mark Thornburg, Drake’s market partner. “Whenever you come into Drake’s you can expect exceptional food, unwavering commitment to hospitality and an atmosphere that invites people to have a lot of fun.”

The restaurant plans to offer weekly trivia, shuffleboard and daily drink specials. The Knoxville location will feature two DJs who will play on Thursday until 1 a.m. and Friday and Saturday until 2:30 a.m., with one inside the restaurant and another outside on a large patio with garage doors, which will be open in the summer.

The menu features traditional American-style pub food, including hand-pressed burgers, Sriracha wings, build-your-own tacos and sushi.

To apply for a job, visit the temporary hiring office at the company’s future location at 242 Morrell Road.

Tech trends expected for 2016

Next year Tennessee residents may see the benefits of the significant advancements in technology that have occurred over the past few years.

“As we continue to rely on wireless technology more and more for business, entertainment, health monitoring and communications, the devices and how we use them will continue to evolve,” says Jay Ellison, executive vice president of operations for U.S. Cellular. “With strong networks and creative ways to use them, there is technology on the horizon that can connect us in ways never before possible, and I have never been more excited about where these innovations can take us.”

Top trends in the wireless industry include growth in The Internet of Things (IoT), a term for technology connecting smartphones to other things, such as having a sensor on business inventory that sends an alert to a smartphone when it needs to be replaced.

Sales of wearable technology worldwide increased nearly 200 percent in the last three months of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). There is a wide range of choices in wearable technology functionality, ranging from the basic fitness tracking to a smartphone-like experience. In 2016, more businesses are expected to use the technology, Ellison said.

In 2016, expect to see more people checking out at retail stores using only their smartphones, along with more retailers adapting to the technology.

Free tax workshops offered

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Revenue will be holding a free tax workshop for new businesses in Knoxville in January 2016.

The Knoxville workshop will take place January 13, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Department’s Knoxville regional office, located on the third floor of 7175 Strawberry Plains Pike.

Similar workshops are taking place in Chattanooga, Johnson City, Memphis and Nashville. These free workshops are designed to assist those encountering business-related taxes for the first time. Tax specialists from various local and state agencies will provide the basic information needed to comply with registration and tax requirements.

During the session, attendees will have the opportunity to listen to these tax specialists, ask questions and receive materials explaining tax responsibilities. Areas of discussion will include business tax, sales and use tax, and tax enforcement procedures.

Space is limited and registration is required. For more information, please call (800) 342-1003 (toll-free inside Tennessee) or (615) 253-0600 (local Nashville-area and outside Tennessee).

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department collects about 87 percent of total state revenue. During the 2015 fiscal year, it collected $12.6 billion in state taxes and fees and more than $2.4 billion in taxes and fees for local governments.

To learn more about the Department, visit

Fried Pie Lady loves home business

Susan Reynolds of Reynolds Farm in Loudon, Tennessee says people in town might not recognize her name but if you say “the fried pie lady” they know her.

Her business, which started out 7 years ago (when she retired) with fruit pies sold at a local farmer’s market, is now a thriving business that keeps her, her husband, and daughter Kelli busy cooking year-round on their 6 acre farm.

“We started out in the beginning just selling fried pies at the Loudon farmer’s market every Thursday,” Susan Reynolds told Celebrate Knoxville. “I started making other things, and that’s when we found out that I needed to have some licenses.”



Susan Reynolds travelled to Nashville to take the course required to obtain a domestic kitchen license, and later obtained a food manufacturer’s license from the state of Tennessee. Standards are more strict for things like black bean salsa than they are for things like her homemade breads and cookies. Photo by Laura Long.

Editor’s Note: In Tennessee, environmental health specialists inspect every establishment where food and beverages are prepared and served at least twice a year or more often as deemed necessary to ensure compliance with the Tennessee Food Safety Act.  Current food permits and the most recent inspection report must be displayed in a prominent location for the public to view. For more information, contact the Small Business Advocate in the Office of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury at

“We had to be approved by the FDA for our salsa and pickles for food safety reasons,” Reynolds said. “As I said, I went to Nashville for my domestic kitchen license but I think there are some tests that can be taken online now for small in-home food business licenses. We get inspected every year.”

Reynolds says her recipes, especially the one for her fried pie pastries, are secret and she doesn’t share them but she will tell customers if there is an ingredient in any product that may cause problems for persons with allergies.

“Kelli does a lot of the baking now and we go through the cookbooks I have to find new recipes we want to try,” Reynolds said. “We like to make blueberry and banana breads, cookies, cannoli, sourdough breads, and pull-apart cinnamon breads. We also take custom orders if someone wants a particular kind of bread.”

Reynolds says the most gratifying part of her business is getting out and meeting customers face-to-face, something that sets her apart from businesses that just sell online.


Kelli Davidson of Reynolds Farm shows off some of her delicious baked goods at the Sevierville Holiday Market in downtown Sevierville. The family works year-round on their home business and travels to several farmer’s markets in East Tennessee throughout the year. Photo by Laura Long.

“This is our fourth year attending the Market Square Farmer’s Market and we really have enjoyed it,” Reynolds said. “This Saturday will be our last for Market Square but we will start back up again with the first indoor farmer’s market in January at Central United Methodist Church in North Knoxville. We’ll be there every second Saturday until the summer farmer’s market begins in May. So for us, this business is really year-round now.”

Visit Reynolds Farm on Facebook at:



Survey studies arts and culture

The Arts Mean Business. That is the message being delivered today by the Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville, who announced it has joined the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, a national study measuring the economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences.

In Greater Knoxville, the research study is being conducted by Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the nation’s nonprofit organization advancing the arts and arts education in partnership with the Arts & Culture Alliance and the Tennessee Arts Commission, the state’s arts agency. This is the fifth national study over the past 20 years to measure the impact of arts and culture spending on local jobs, income paid to local residents, and revenue generated to local and state governments. This will be the Alliance’s first time to participate.

As one of nearly 300 study partners across all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, the Alliance will collect economic impact data from local nonprofits that offer arts and culture programming both formal and informal. “This study will show how nonprofit arts and culture are an important industry in our community—employing people locally, purchasing goods and services from local merchants, and helping to drive tourism and economic development,” said Liza Zenni, Executive Director of the Arts & Culture Alliance.

The Alliance will also collect surveys from attendees at arts and cultural events. Previous national studies have shown that the average attendee spends $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission. Those studies have also shown that, on average, 32 percent of arts attendees travel from outside the county in which the arts event took place, and that those cultural tourists typically spend nearly $40 per person—generating important revenue for local businesses and demonstrating how the arts drive revenue for other businesses in the community.

Surveys will be collected throughout calendar year 2016. The results of the study will be released in June of 2017.


Nominations sought for Orchid awards

Keep Knoxville Beautiful is now accepting nominations from the public for its beautification awards, the Orchids. Since 1979, Keep Knoxville Beautiful has presented Orchid Awards to Knoxville and Knox County buildings and outdoor spaces that beautify and elevate the local landscape.

Orchid Awards will be granted in the following six categories:

  1. New Architecture
  2. Redesign/Reuse
  3. Restaurant/Cafe/Bar/Brewery
  4. Environmental Stewardship
  5. Outdoor Space
  6. Public Art

“This year we revamped a few of the categories to reflect some of the changes happening in our dynamic city,” said Patience Melnik, executive director of Keep Knoxville Beautiful, “We added the restaurant/brewery, environmental stewardship, and public art categories to celebrate these growing elements in our community.”

Anyone can nominate a location or outdoor public artwork by completing a simple online form on Keep Knoxville Beautiful’s website,, or by calling the office at 865-521-6957.

Private residences are not considered for this award. Properties can win only once except in cases of major renovations. Nominations are due by Friday, January 8, 2015.


Celebrate season with gourmet cookies

CELEBRATE KNOXVILLE – With the popularity of farmers markets and flea markets, pop-up shops – temporary or seasonal businesses – are becoming more popular as well. Celebrate Knoxville’s Food Writer Mary June Thompson is taking advantage of this trend by baking up her own special gourmet holiday cookies this year, including flavors such as Mexican Chocolate and Chai Shortbread.


Thompson is already a familiar face to Celebrate Knoxville readers, as her previous Sustainable Cooking columns utilizing fresh produce from the Market Square Farmers Market received lots of positive feedback and continues to show up in popular searches for the site. Thompson counts Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), Sean Brock, of Husk and McCrady’s restaurants in Charleston, SC, and having visited 48 states and 7 countries among her greatest cooking influences.

Where did the idea for this holiday cookies pop-up shop come from? I actually had a similar thing I wanted to do last year, but some things happened unexpectedly and I didn’t have the time. I always keep up with the current food trends, and pop-ups have been a big thing for a while now, so I thought that model fit perfectly with what I wanted to do–bake yummy treats for the holidays for a limited amount of time.

Are you creating recipes from ones you love (and have tried) or are you taking requests from clients? I am offering 7 different kinds of cookies (Triple Chocolate Chip with Sea Salt, Mexican Chocolate, Snickerdoodles, Ginger, Loaded Oatmeal, and Chai Shortbread) including a gluten free option, (Pistachio Amaretti). The offerings were carefully selected to be different from what one would typically find at a local bakery, including some twists on classics, as well as kinds people may never have had before. At this time, I am not taking special requests.

Do you ship them or do people have to live in Knoxville to get them? I will ship at cost for those who don’t live here but don’t want to miss out on the cookies.

Still trying the recipes out on your husband, JT or do you have other taste testers? JT is always my #1 taste tester, although several of the cookie varieties have been enjoyed by others in the past.

Celebrate Knoxville ran a story awhile back about your Valentine’s Day chocolate cookies. Any plans to continue this December shop into other holidays? I don’t have any definite plans at this time, but this has been very successful, so it’s not out of the question that I might offer a pop-up shop again.

What is the best way for people to place an order? Do you have the prices on Facebook? I am actually pretty much booked solid for the remainder of the time frame I am doing this, but I could possibly squeeze in a couple more orders for the weekend of the 11th-13th. Pricing is $20 per batch for all cookies except the Pistachio Amaretti, which are $25. Each batch consists of 2-1/2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on recipe yield. (I do have pricing and cookie descriptions in a previous Facebook post.)

Best cookie for someone who has been good this year is…. The Triple Chocolate Chip with Sea Salt. A modern twist on a classic that everyone loves.

Best cookie for someone who has been bad this year is… Whatever their least favorite flavor is, I suppose. But they still might enjoy them because the cookies are just that good, ha ha.


Mary June Thompson has been cooking and entertaining for nearly two decades. During this time, her cooking style has expanded and evolved from typical American fare to encompass many different types of cuisines, including Italian, French, Greek, Asian, Mediterranean/North African, and Latin American. Focusing on obtaining the best available ingredients and preparing fresh, healthy dishes with bold flavor defines her cooking style, regardless of cuisine.

Celebrate Knoxville, December 4, 2015.

Knoxville Writers host holiday meetup

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Members of the Knoxville Writers’ Guild writing groups will share their works and hold a mix and mingle potluck for the 2015 December monthly program. Both current members and those simply curious about joining the guild are encouraged to attend and to bring a covered dish.

The event, which will be open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 3 at Central United Methodist Church’s Fellowship Hall, 201 E. Third Ave. CUMC is a new venue for monthly KWG programs, and attendees should enter off of the large parking lot behind the church. A $2 donation is requested at the door. The building is handicapped accessible.

About the new venue, KWG president, Donna Kapa, said, “The church can host our general meetings as well as our workshops in a variety of comfortable, hospitable and affordable rooms.”

More than 15 writing groups are currently part of the KWG, with genres including poetry, playwriting, literary fiction, crime and mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, prompt writing and creative non-fiction. The guild also features two groups specifically designed for teen writers. A representative from most groups will be available, and writers are encouraged to bring copies of their books to sell in anticipation of the holidays. Sales tables will also be provided for those KWG members not currently part of one of the groups.

The Knoxville Writers’ Guild exists to facilitate a broad and inclusive community for area writers, provide a forum for information, support and sharing among writers, help members improve and market their writing skills and promote writing and creativity. Additional information about KWG can be found at

Babalu Tacos opens November 23

Babalu Tacos & Tapas will open its doors on Gay Street on November 23, 2015 to serve its authentic, gourmet tacos and small plates to Knoxville.

“Knoxville feels like home already, and now we’re excited to share our love of high-quality, handcrafted food and drinks with our friends and neighbors here,” said Jay Roberts, director of operations for Babalu Tacos & Tapas. “We couldn’t have picked a better opportunity for our new location than renovating the old JC Penney building in the heart of historic downtown Knoxville. We’re excited for everyone to see inside, and most importantly, to experience Babalu-style dining.”

The unique menu at Babalu Tacos & Tapas features gourmet tacos and small plates, such as Scottish salmon and a Baba Burger, served tapas-style and brought to the dining table as they are prepared. The restaurant also has a full-service bar, including seasonal margaritas and other handcrafted specialty cocktails.

Babalu Tacos & Tapas Knoxville

Babalu Tacos & Tapas will open its doors on Gay Street in the renovated JC Penney building on November 23, 2015 to serve its authentic, gourmet tacos and small plates to Knoxville. Founded in Jackson, Mississippi, Babalu Tacos & Tapas also operates in Birmingham, Alabama, and Memphis, Tennessee. The Knoxville restaurant is located at 412 S. Gay St., and will open daily at 11 a.m. for lunch and dinner. Photo submitted.

Regal to locate new HQ in Knoxville

Regal Entertainment Group has announced the company will locate its new corporate headquarters on Knoxville’s South Waterfront. Regal, which operates the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. theater circuit, expects to create 75 new jobs.
Regal Entertainment (shown here in the Gay Street location) will locate their new headquarters in a nine-story, 178,000-square-foot building along Knoxville’s South Waterfront. File photo by Celebrate Knoxville.

Knoxville leaders praised the collaborative effort to bring Regal to Knoxville’s waterfront as well the economic impact the company has on the East Tennessee community.

“Regal Entertainment has deep roots in East Tennessee and is a great corporate citizen and partner,” Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said. “This is a fantastic opportunity to bring a major corporate headquarters to our rapidly redeveloping South Waterfront, and to keep hundreds of high-paying jobs here in Knoxville. Thanks to Regal, Governor Haslam, (TNECD) Commissioner Boyd, (Knox County) Mayor Burchett, TVA and Southeastern Development Associates for working with us to put this project together.”

Regal Entertainment Group operates 7,357 screens in 571 theaters in 42 states along with Guam, American Samoa and the District of Columbia. The Company operates theaters in 46 of the top 50 U.S. designated market areas.

US Cellular hosts mobile tech workshops

Knoxville area U.S. Cellular business experts are hosting free workshops in October 2015 demonstrating how businesses can take advantage of cutting-edge mobile technology.

“Running a business is a challenging endeavor by any measure; however, today’s businesses can take advantage of a number of mobile technology tools to help them succeed,” said Nathan Waddell, director of sales for U.S. Cellular in Tennessee.

Local U.S. Cellular business experts will be on hand to demonstrate the latest businesses learn about the latest mobile technologies and connected devices. You can explore the store and learn more about mobile security, the mobile workplace, mobile registers and overall business productivity. U.S. Cellular associates also can discuss technology to help businesses with fleet tracking, remote monitoring and e-forms, as well as the latest devices, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Apple iPhone 6S and Apple iPad Air 2.

Dates and times for the free workshops are:

Oct. 20, 8:30-9:30 a.m. – 11001 Parkside Drive

Oct. 21, 8:30-9:30 a.m. – 2736 Schaad Road

Oct. 27, 8:30-9:30 a.m. – 8401 Kingston Pike

Oct. 22, 8:30-9:30 a.m. – 4873 N. Broadway

Knoxville hosts woodworking show

The East Tennessee Woodworkers Guild and the Arts & Culture Alliance proudly present the 18th Master Woodworkers Show, November 6 – 8, 2015 at the Emporium Center. This biennial juried show highlights the handcrafted works of 30 fine woodworkers of East Tennessee and the surrounding region and will feature many types of woodwork, from traditional to whimsical, including fine furniture, cabinetry, turning, sculpture and marquetry. The Emporium Center has hosted five Master Woodworkers Shows since 2005, providing an ideal environment in which to view the work and meet the artists.

The 2015 Show hours are: Friday, November 6, 4:00-9:00 PM; Saturday, November 7, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM; and Sunday, November 8, 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Admission is free.

A public reception takes place on Friday, November 6, from 5:00-9:00 PM as part of First Friday activities in downtown Knoxville. The First Friday reception also features music and dance performances by Pasión Flamenca from 6:00-6:30 PM and a Jazz Jam Session hosted by Vance Thompson and Friends from 7:00-9:00 PM in the Black Box Theatre.

“We’ve got a great show for 2015,” says Scott DeWaard, Show Director. “It only happens every other year, and it goes so fast. So if you love fine handmade furniture and want to know more about what sets it apart, this is the show for you.”

Among the participants in this year’s show are the following notable artisans:
+ Ronald Young of Chattanooga
+ Stephen Moles of Church Hill
+ Matt Campbell of Dayton
+ Richard Dwyer and Jeffrey Neil of Gray
+ Curtis Buchanan of Jonesborough
+ Harold Galbraith, Brian Horais, Al Hudson, Dan Land, Lou Mansur and Gordon Rome of Knoxville
+ Ken Lewis of Kingsport
+ Ron Clayton of Loudon
+ Brendan Faller and Stephen Shankles of Maryville
+ Monty Ligon of Murfreesboro
+ Dennis Siemsen and Jerry Spady of Oak Ridge
+ Chris Hough of Ooltewah
+ Alan Daigre of Readyville
+ Tim Hintz of Smithville
+ Scott DeWaard and Sandy Pittard of Walland
+ Tom Cowan of Winchester
+ Alf Sharp of Woodbury
+ Kirk Shufelt of Cullowhee, NC
+ Gary Rawlins of Mars Hill, NC
+ Bruce Bradford of Winston Salem, NC
+ Michael McDunn of Greenville, SC

DeWaard and Shankles

The 18th Master Woodworkers Show will be displayed at the Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay Street (corner of Gay/Jackson) in downtown Knoxville. Photo submitted.

For more information, visit or contact the Arts & Culture Alliance at (865) 523-7543.

Brewer’s Jam celebrates craft beer

KNOXVILLE The 19th annual Knoxville Brewers’ Jam to support Community Shares of Tennessee will be held Saturday, October 17, at the World’s Fair Park.

The non-profit organization’s biggest annual fundraiser regularly draws up to 4,000 people to downtown Knoxville for a day of craft beer, live music, food and fun. Guests ages 21 and up receive a souvenir Brewers’ Jam glass and can enjoy unlimited samples of craft beer from approximately 60 different brewers.

Knoxville-based brewers participating this year include the new Balter Beerworks and Cold Fusion Brewing. Yee-Haw Brewing out of Johnson City will also be pouring their selection of beers, which are new to the Knoxville market.

A variety of food vendors, including Savory & Sweet Food Truck and Curious Dog Hot Dogs & Sandwiches, will offer festival attendees meals and snacks that pair perfectly with craft brew.

Rockabilly band The Royal Hounds headlines the music stage, which also features performances by Baseball The Band, Samantha Gray & the Soul Providers, and Deadbeat Scoundrels.

Gates open at 12 p.m. for VIP ticketholders; general admission ticketholders enter at 1 p.m. General admission tickets are $45, plus applicable fees, available online at or fee-free at Barley’s Knoxville, Three Rivers Market, Disc Exchange, Downtown Grill & Brewery, and Bearden Beer Market. VIP ($100) and designated driver ($15) tickets are available exclusively online. No tickets will be sold at the gate.

For more information, visit, email or contact Community Shares at 865-522-1604.

Knoxville Ice Bears 2015-2016 season

The Knoxville Ice Bears start the 2015-2016 season with their annual Free Agent Showcase on October 9, 2015 followed by main training camp which will be kicking off on October 14.


The Knoxville Ice Bears will play their only exhibition home game on Saturday, October 17 as they host the Fayetteville FireAntz at 7:30pm at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium Coliseum in downtown Knoxville. The venue is located at 500 Howard Baker Jr. Blvd. and offers convenient parking across the street. File photo by Celebrate Knoxville. 

The Knoxville Ice Bears officially drop the puck on the 2015-2016 season on Saturday, October 24 when they raise their fourth SPHL Championship banner in 10 years.

Earlier this year, Knoxville Ice Bears announced the hiring of Cole Burkhalter as the Director of Hockey Development. Burkhalter, a 2008 graduate of the University of Tennessee and earning his master’s degree from Canisius College, worked as the Assistant to Hockey Administration for the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League. While working with the Bruins, he helped the organization to a Northeast Division Championship in 2012 and to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013.

“I am thrilled to add another former member of the NHL to our staff as now he joins a former Pittsburgh Penguin as well as my background with the Philadelphia Flyers” said team President and GM Mike Murray.


FilmMakers blend real with imaginary fears

Looking to find an authentic, blood-curdling good fright for Halloween, five friends set off on a road trip in an RV to track down underground Haunted House attractions. That’s the basic plot of The Houses October Built, an American found footage horror film showing on Netflix (at the time of this writing). With autumn in the air and Halloween on the horizon, spoke with the director Bobby Roe and producer Zack Andrews about the movie, which is actually multiple projects.

The first project is a real documentary about haunted house attractions in the U.S. that was produced in 2011. The second is a horror movie made in 2014, a fictional account of a group of people visiting those same haunted attractions and includes footage from the first project.

Confused yet? That’s part of the plan. As the lines between real and imagined horrors becomes more blurry in modern society, Roe and Andrews are making the most of mixing it up for horror fans in a way that is fresh and unique. Both the documentary and the fiction story are packaged together on the Blue-Ray of The Houses October Built, so that fans can see behind the scenes of actual places and learn more about the inspiration for the movie.


The movie is the directorial debut of Bobby Roe, who also starred. It was produced by Zack Andrews (who also starred) and Steven Schneider, whose hits include Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and The Devil Inside. The film was given a limited theatrical release on October 10, 2014 and was released to home video on January 6, 2015.

“I think the quote at the beginning of the film, of how the real horror is what humans do to other humans, that explains our approach,” Roe said. “These are real locations, real scare actors. People can visit these places and talk to the same people we talked to when we made the movie. We wanted to make it as organic and real as possible.”

Real performances by great actors also make this film memorable, and Brandy Schaefer already won the award for Best Actress in The Macabre Faire Film Festival for her performance in The Houses October Built. The only female included on the RV trip, Shaefer’s descent from confidence into shock is crucial to the story and ties the other characters together. Fears mount up as it becomes obvious that the hauntings are getting out of control.

“It was a balancing act,” Roe said. “We asked ourselves ‘can we take (Brandy) to the breaking point without having the audience turn on the other characters?'”

Online reviews of the film describe the story as ‘a slow burn,’ with an emphasis on character development and not body count. Both Roe and Andrews say that is intentional and acknowledge that (Producer) Steven Schneider also used a slow burn with his Paranormal Activity movies, to much success.

Even with a slow build to a horrific ending, the movie is not without comic relief, however, and one scene with Zack Andrews features a cannabis-smoking-donut-eating-crying fit with infectious laughter.

“People ask me if I was actually high during that scene but I was not,” Andrews said. “We were just joking around on the set one day and decided to make the most of that moment.”

Cinematographer Andrew Strahorn does an excellent job of making this movie feel like a nightmare, blending real action with staged action. Some of the movie takes place during Mardis Gras, with even more masked characters and performance art adding to the atmosphere of weirdness.

“It was always our plan to include that in the story,” Andrews said. “Mardi Gras is a unique atmosphere and you just can’t fake that.”

This movie won the Carnet Jove Jury Award for Best Feature Length Film from the Midnight X-Treme Category from the Sitges Film Festival, but perhaps the most exciting news for horror fans is that the story of Houses That October Built continues: Roe and Andrews have recently returned from Scotland and other haunted places in the U.K. and plan to return again in the Spring. Roe said some of the haunted attractions there rival the best and most extreme in the United States, and they plan to make the most of what they have learned for another movie.

“Let’s just say that what you’ve seen of The Houses October Built is more of an intermission than an ending,” Roe said.
—Laura Long,, Sept. 16, 2015.

Free presentation on Jackie Kennedy

The East Tennessee Historical Society and the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville will commemorate the 55th anniversary of the John and Jackie Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign visit on Monday, September 21, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.

Tina Santi Flaherty, author of What Jackie Taught Us: Lessons From the Remarkable Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, will give a presentation on the public and private life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis–her glamour and style, men and marriages, motherhood, vision, and courage.

The Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound will also show vintage film clips of past presidential visits to Knoxville.

The event is free and open to the public.


Tina Santi Flaherty is the author of What Jackie Taught Us: Lessons from the Remarkable Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The Memphis native arrived in New York with $100 in her pocket and not knowing a soul and went on to become the first female corporate vice president of three of America’s largest corporations: Colgate-Palmolive, Gray Advertising, and GTE (now Verizon), earning her a Business Week recognition as One of America’s top corporate executives.

Her many awards and honors include an honorary doctorate from St. John’s University, an Equal People Award from the United Nations Decade for Women, and an Extraordinary Woman of Achievement Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Ms. Flaherty’s books will be available for purchase and signing following the lecture.

Movies on the Square begins Sept 11

Knox County Public Library is once again hosting Movies on the Square in downtown Knoxville, from Sept. 11 through October 16, 2015. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy a movie under the stars in Market Square.

Patrons can park free on weekends and after 6pm every night in over 5,000 spaces in the following Knoxville municipal garages:

Locust Street Garage
Market Square Garage
State Street Garage
Promenade Garage
Walnut Street Garage (new!)
Dwight Kessel Garage
Jackson Ave Surface Lot – corner of Gay & Jackson
Viaduct Surface Lot – under the interstate off E. Jackson

And the 2015 Movies on the Square lineup is:
September 11: Driving Miss Daisy (PG, 1989)

September 18: Rio (G, 2011)

September 25: Night at the Museum (PG, 2006)

October 2: No Movie – Free Black Lillies concert

October 9: Hotel Transylvania (PG, 2012)

October 16: A League of Their Own (PG, 1992)

Talent Trek agency hosts workshop

On Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, Knoxville’s own Talent Trek Agency will host a workshop about all aspects of talent representation and management as part of this year’s Knoxville Film Festival. Katherine Olsen, a New York talent manager, and opera star and actor Gary Simpson (THE KNICK) will share their experience with attendees.

The workshop takes place at Regal Downtown West Cinema 8 at 10 am.

Olsen is the Founder of Encompass Arts LLC in New York City. Her talent management clients include leading Broadway, Film, Stage and Operatic talent. They include: John Cullum, television, film screen and theater star, Anthony Laciura of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” Marcello Giordani, leading tenor of the Metropolitan Opera, Two-Time GRAMMY AWARD winner, Sylvia McNair as well as Tony Award Nominee, Willy Falk. Encompass Arts has actors this season on NASHVILLE, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, THE KNICK, UNFORGETTABLE, THE GOOD WIFE, among many others.

GARY SIMPSON is a Metropolitan Opera Principle Artist and can be seen as Hobart Showalter in HBO/Cinemax’s new series “The Knick” starring Clive Owen and directed by Steven Soderbergh

The mission of the Knoxville Film Festival is to recognize and celebrate the art of independent cinema. It exists to provide a stimulating gathering in which the lovers and creators of independent cinema come together to see and discuss interesting works from local, regional, national, and international filmmakers.

For more information call 865.637.4561.

Melnik joins Keep Knoxville Beautiful

Knoxville, TN – The Board of Directors of Keep Knoxville Beautiful is pleased to announce that Patience Melnik has joined the organization as executive director. Patience brings a background in nonprofit project development and management to the position.

“The wealth of experience Patience has in grant writing and relationship building made her an ideal candidate for this position,” said Bob Graves, president of the board of directors.  “We are energized by her presence and look forward to her leadership as we continue the important work of keeping Knoxville beautiful.”

Patience fills the vacancy created by former Executive Director Allison Teeter’s departure in May to join the Knox County Health Department.

Before joining Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Patience served as Director of Environmental Health Programs at the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN), a nonprofit statewide environmental organization located in Knoxville, Tennessee. At TCWN, she was instrumental in creating, funding, and implementing the Bringing Tap Back project, which increased access to drinking water in Tennessee’s public places by providing water bottle refill stations to schools, universities, municipalities, and other organizations.

“I am thrilled to join Keep Knoxville Beautiful,” Melnik said. “At nearly 40 years old, the organization has such a long history of partnerships with other organizations and with countless volunteers to make Knoxville a cleaner, greener, and more beautiful place to live. It is an honor to have the opportunity to build upon the foundation laid by so many people over so many years.”

To welcome Patience, please join Keep Knoxville Beautiful for a Meet and Greet at the Fieldhouse Social located at 2525 UT Commons Way on Thursday, August 27, 2015 from 5:30 until 7pm.

Knoxville Chamber honors Propel grads

The Knoxville Chamber’s Propel Mentor Protégé program recently honored 6 protégés who represented the fifth graduation class of the program. During graduation, 22 new protégés were inaugurated into the program.

Propel matches small businesses with large successful firms to assist them in business growth.

The graduation and new class presentation featured an overview of the program featuring Hallerin Hilton Hill as the emcee. Vol football legend Inky Johnson gave the keynote address to the entrepreneurs and spoke about the integrity that small business owners should be concerned with as much as sales and revenues.

“The Mentor/Protégé program has helped me grow my business and the Chamber has helped me meet so many individuals who I can help as well,” said Delnise Moore of Always Moore Janitorial Services.

Currently, there are 32 small businesses in the program which is the largest class of mentoring teams since inception in 2009. Propel is funded as part of Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley, a regional economic development initiative.

Propel candidates must have an established business for three years or have ten years expertise in their field and must agree to maintain Knoxville Chamber membership for three years.

Tradeshow highlights connections

Small and midsized businesses interested in working with local governments can meet with up to 30 municipalities in one stop at the East Tennessee Purchasing Association’s (ETAP) 10th Annual Business Matching and Tradeshow event on Thursday, July 16, 2015.

From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Rothchild Conference and Catering Center, attendees will be able to connect with cities, counties and other agencies to get information about their processes and available contracts.

“It’s really beneficial for both parties,” said Penny Owens, business matching chair for ETAP. “The businesses are able to meet with all of their potential customers in one stop instead of traveling all over East Tennessee, and the governmental buyers are able to meet with all the vendors in one place, too.”

In addition to the tradeshow, educational seminars will be available for attendees. The State of Tennessee will host a session about how to do business with its departments, and the Small Business Administration will share information about its lending program and the Women-Owned Small Businesses government contracting program. U.S. Bank will lead a session on financing for small businesses.

Registration is free for attendees. To register, visit

Try Chocolate Chipotle Mousse

by Mary June Thompson, Food Writer. — Chocolate. It’s something that almost everyone loves, and the average American consumes nearly 12 pounds of it per year. The good news is that in moderation, chocolate is actually good for you, provided it has at least 70 percent cacao content. The higher cacao content means less sugar, which is good, but it also provides antioxidants and several important minerals such as cooper, magnesium, and iron.

Another thing that makes chocolate so great is how versatile it is. Most of us generally think of chocolate in terms of sweets, such as candy, cookies, cakes, ice cream, etc. But it also has savory applications, particularly in Mexican mole sauce, where unsweetened cocoa powder adds depth of flavor, color, and helps to temper the chilies used to make the sauce.

Chocolate is so ubiquitous that its flavor also appears in unexpected places. Two excellent examples of this are the herb “chocolate mint” and wine. Chocolate mint is a variety of peppermint that has been bred to contain notes of chocolate. It is wonderful used as both a garnish for chocolate desserts and also as a flavoring agent if you desire to mix chocolate with peppermint in sweets such a pudding, pie filling, or chocolate-based drink. Certain red wine varietals also contain hints of chocolate flavor, especially zinfandels and young cabernet sauvignons.

Locally, Blue Slip Winery offers 2 selections of wine to pair with chocolate. Their latest offering, Chambourcin, is a fruit-forward French-American hybrid. It is a dry wine that contains notes of chocolate and cherry, and pairs beautifully with chocolate desserts, particularly ones that are not overtly sweet.


Blue Slip Winery’s Seyval Blanc pairs well with chocolate-covered almonds, says owner Linn Slocum. For a full list of available handcrafted wines, visit

“Our dry Cynthiana pairs well with Dark chocolates,” Slocum says. “Seyval Blanc is a French-American hybrid that ripens early and is cold-hardy. Ours has citrus notes and minerality and is off-dry. Cynthiana is an American grape also refereed to as Norton. This grape has tiny berries that yeild inky juice that results in a full-bodied robust wine with smooth tannins and a hint of cherry.”

For my latest recipe creation, I found inspiration in the various flavors that chocolate combines well with and also complements. In a nod to Mexican mole and how beautifully chocolate pairs with a bit of heat and spice, I developed a dessert that is both sweet and savory, rich but light in mouthfeel. Using unsweetened chocolate allows the chef to control the actual amount of sugar the dessert contains, which is healthier, and also allows the rich cocoa and chili flavors to take center stage, rather than the dessert just tasting sweet. (More sugar can be added to taste if one prefers a sweeter dessert.) A perfect after dinner treat with a glass of Chambourcin.

Chocolate Chipotle Mousse

Chocolate Chipotle Mousse


1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1-½ cups skim milk

½ cup sugar

1 tsp. chipotle powder

1 tsp. instant coffee or instant espresso powder

¼ tsp. fine kosher salt

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped

½ tsp. vanilla

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream


1.) Combine gelatin and milk in a medium saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes to soften gelatin. Cook over medium heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan (180°). Do not boil! Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, salt, instant coffee or espresso, and chocolate, whisking briskly until sugar and coffee dissolve and chocolate has melted. Stir in vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture into a medium glass (or other heatproof) bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly onto surface so a skin does not form. Refrigerate until mixture cools and just begins to set.

2.) Meanwhile, chill the bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment (or alternately, a large bowl and the whisk attachment of a hand mixer) in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Pour cream into chilled bowl and whip cream just until stiff peaks form. (Do not over-whip or you will have butter.)

3.) Remove chocolate base from refrigerator. Fold in some of the whipped cream to lighten the mixture. Gently fold in remaining whipped cream, (saving some for a garnish if desired), until cream is fully incorporated into the chocolate. Chill for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

4.) Serve in individual dessert dishes, topped with a dollop of whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and/or a sprig of chocolate mint. Yields 4 servings.


Mary June Thompson has been cooking and entertaining for nearly two decades. During this time, her cooking style has expanded and evolved from typical American fare to encompass many different types of cuisines, including Italian, French, Greek, Asian, Mediterranean/North African, and Latin American. Focusing on obtaining the best available ingredients and preparing fresh, healthy dishes with bold flavor defines her cooking style, regardless of cuisine., June 22, 2015.

Dura-Line expands in Knoxville

Dura-Line is expanding its Knoxville-based global headquarters.

DL_BuildingPhoto_9123 4x6e_HDR2

Dura-Line manufacturers and distributes communication and energy infrastructure products and systems, and will nearly double its office space from 24,000 to 40,000 square feet at Parkside Plaza I in Turkey Creek. Photo submitted.

“We currently have both global headquarters and United States business, including all support, operating in the same building on the same floor,” said Dura-Line President and Chief Executive Officer Paresh Chari. “Since locating to Knoxville in 1996, Dura-Line has expanded from a company with $60 million in revenue to more than $700 million and has added the staff to match that growth. Since we became part of a multi-billion-dollar global chemicals company Mexichem, we have aggressive growth plans and are simply running out of space.”

Dura-Line was founded in 1971 in Middlesboro, Ky.

Kat offers free Cumberland fares

Beginning June 1, 2015, Knox Area Transit (KAT) will be an even better way to get through the construction in the Cumberland Avenue area, because it will be free.

Anyone catching a bus along Cumberland–from Gay Street to West Volunteer–can board fare-free starting June 1. All stops in the zone will be designated with a the bright round sign shown here, indicating a fare-free boarding location.

The fare-free promotion is intended to attract more people to transit, and thus relieve congestion through Cumberland, as well as provide easy access to businesses along the corridor during the City’s ongoing construction and redesign project.

“The Free Fare Zone will help people get to and from Cumberland Avenue during the construction, it will help the merchants there and it will help reduce traffic,” said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. “It’s also a reminder that public transit is a great resource for our city.”

KAT will also be having some special promotions and events during the first week of the Free Fare Zone project.

The Cumberland Free Fare Zone will be in effect during the length of the construction project.


Summer movies at TN Theatre

KNOXVILLE (May 19, 2015) The Tennessee Theatre in downtown Knoxville is hosting the 17th Annual Summer Movie Magic lineup this summer. Movie-goers will travel back in time and see these American classics as they should be: on a big screen, with a live audience, in a beautiful and historical theater, with a bag of popcorn and a cold drink.


This year is the first season all summer films will be shown with a digital projector at the Tennessee Theatre. Patrons will experience favorite classics in a beautiful and historic setting. Summer Movie Magic is sponsored by Denark Construction. Photo by Celebrate Knoxville.

Friday, June 19 · 8 PM
Sunday, June 21 · 2 PM

Friday, June 26 · 8 PM
Sunday, June 28 · 2 PM

Friday, July 24 · 8 PM
Sunday, July 26 · 2 PM

Friday, July 31 · 7 PM
Saturday, August 1 · 7 PM
Sunday, August 2 · 2 PM

Friday, August 14 · 8 PM
Sunday, August 16 · 2 PM

Friday, August 21 · 8 PM
Sunday, August 23 · 2 PM
Tickets are $9.00 adult, $7.00 children under 12 and seniors 65 and over.

The complete 2015 Summer Movie Magic Series presented by Denark Construction.

Total Quality Logistics creates jobs

Total Quality Logistics officials have announced the transportation services company will expand its operations in Tennessee by opening a new location in Knox County at 800 S. Gay St., Suite 810.

The company will invest $1 million to open a sales office in downtown Knoxville to meet the needs of its expanding client-base, creating at least 100 new jobs over the next five years.

This is TQL’s second expansion in Tennessee in just over a year. In January 2014, TQL invested $1 million to open its first Tennessee office in downtown Nashville. With the announcement of its Knoxville office, TQL will operate 31 offices in 17 states across the country.

TQL is one of the fastest growing providers of transportation logistics services in North America, connecting shippers who have product that needs to be moved with truckload carriers who have the capacity to move it.

TQL’s Knoxville office is expected to open in July 2015. People can apply for jobs immediately and should start the process online at

Hampton Inn West celebrates Earth Hour

Knoxville – Hampton Inn West at Cedar Bluff has announced it will unite with Hilton Worldwide Team Members and franchisee employees around the world to protect the planet by participating in the celebration of Earth Hour 2015.

Earth Hour will take place from 8:30p.m. to 9:30p.m. local time on Saturday, March 28, 2015.

“Celebrating Earth Hour is one of the many ways we demonstrate how we conserve waste, water and energy every day, and we are encouraging our guests and neighbors to join us in support of this global effort, said Lisa Benker, General Manager. We will switch off the non-essential lighting as well as dim the lights in public areas. Also, we will engage our department teams to participate in Earth Hour by taking actions, such as:

switching off non-critical music in lounges and restaurants
encouraging guests to reuse towels and linens
housekeeping not turning on lights prior to check-in on March 28

The original idea for Earth Hour was conceived by WWF in 2007 during a meeting held at Hilton Sydney, and Hilton Worldwide has a long history of supporting the event. When this worldwide effort began in Sydney, Australia, more than two million people turned off their lights for an hour and reduced the city’s energy consumption by more than 10 percent. It is now a global movement with more than 7,000 cities and towns in 162 countries and territories and hundreds of millions of people participating across seven continents.

Knox Heritage hosts Spring tour

Knox Heritage is hosting a behind-the-scenes tours of some of the most interesting places in and around Knoxville on March 12, 2015 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.


The Knox Heritage event begins at Patrick Sullivan’s Saloon on North Central Street, in the Old City section of downtown Knoxville. A reception celebrating the property’s restoration will be held there beginning at 5:30pm before moving on to tour several renovation projects nearby undertaken by developers David Dewhirst and Mark Heinz. File photo of Old City by

This is a great opportunity to see historic preservation in progress and connect with folks who are passionate about preserving, restoring and transforming the places that make Knoxville a great place to live and work.

Residents and interested supporters are invited to join the Knox Heritage community with a membership. Knox Heritage’s architectural salvage efforts have saved countless treasures from the landfill and provided materials for restoration projects across the region. The new office is located at 619 Broadway and offers an expanded inventory, plus will also host artisans and craftspeople for retail and gallery exhibits.

Editor’s Note: There will be a grand opening for the new Broadway space on April 3, 2015.

For more information, call 865-523-8008.

TN announces sustainability awards

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau recently announced the launch of the TDEC Sustainable Transportation Awards initiative to recognize outstanding and voluntary achievements by governments, businesses, industries, public and private institutions of higher learning, and utilities that demonstrate leadership in advancing sustainable transportation in the State.

The awards cover eight broad categories: on-site transportation; off-site transportation; incorporation of sustainable transportation in the supply chain; employee incentive or engagement programs; public transportation; technological or operational innovations; and infrastructure development.

Entities eligible to apply for the TDEC Sustainable Transportation Awards include: federal, state and local governments; commercial and industrial organizations; public and private institutions of higher education; and utilities. Self-nominations are encouraged. A panel of judges representing diverse interests will select award recipients based on criteria including on-the-ground achievement, innovation, transferability, and public education and outreach.

In connection with Clean Air Month, TDEC will host a recognition ceremony and sustainable transportation forum on May 7, 2015 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Applications are due to TDEC no later than March 20, 2015. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Luke Gebhard in TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs at 615-741-2994.

Online TN tax app gets updated

The Tennessee Department of Revenue has revamped its business registration application to make the online service even easier with a streamlined navigation, language that is easier to understand, and demonstration pages.

Tennessee taxpayers use Revenue’s business registration application when they register a new business. They can also register their business for the following taxes online:

• business tax
• franchise and excise tax
• sales and use tax
• television and telecommunications tax
• automobile rental surcharge tax
• tire fee
• used motor oil.

Taxpayers should also use the business registration application when they need notify the Department of Revenue of a mailing address change or the addition of a new business location.


A1LabArts gallery hosts new exhibit

KNOXVILLE– The A1LabArts Gallery will open A Show of Hands, an exhibition of prints and photographs curated by Adam Finkelston and James Meara, on Friday, March 6, 2015 from 6 – 10 p.m.


A Show of Hands exhibition is a part of the Southern Graphics Council International SPHERE conference and will be open at The Center for Creative Minds through March 28. Finkelston and Meara, co-editors of The Hand Magazine, will be in attendance at the exhibition’s reception on Thursday, March 19 from 6 – 9 p.m. at The Center for Creative Minds.

Since April 2013, The Hand Magazine has published hundreds of images from some of the most interesting contemporary artists working in reproduction­based media. The Hand is dedicated to the promotion of hand­made images that utilize techniques invented for and generally thought of as being mechanical in nature. In addition to exploring this paradox, The Hand seeks to unite the photographic and print communities and give a new audience to established practitioners of these arts. The Hand reaches out to established and emerging artists alike, in an effort to recognize the history of hand­made reproduction as well as the future.

A1LabArts is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1995 by a group of local artists. It is dedicated to multi-disciplinary and experimental exploration of contemporary art issues in all media. The gallery is located at 23 Emory Place in Knoxville.

KWG announces winners

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 17, 2015) – The Knoxville Writers’ Guild is excited to announce the winners of its annual writing contest.

Winners for each category are listed below:

Leslie Garrett Award for Literary Fiction
First Place: “A Family Meeting” by Phyllis Gobbell
Second Place: “The Clam” by Kirsten Rudberg
Third Place: “Choked” by Cathy Kodra

First Place: “Metaphor Man – Chapter 2” by David Booker

First Place: “Elsie” by Bob Godwin

First Place: “A Place for Lovers” by Patricia Hope

Novel Excerpt
First Place: “Maranatha Road” by Heather Bell Adams
Second Place: “Hold String and Fly” by Heather Bell Adams
Third Place: “The Hungry Years” by Connie Green

Creative Nonfiction
First Place: “Weighing Up the Risks” by Pauline Mary Curley

Libba Moore Gray Award for Poetry
First Place: “Carbon Monoxide” by Embley Veronica Noechel
Second Place: “Three Poems: ‘November 1862,’ ‘Three Men,’ and ‘An American Painting'” by John Mannone
Third Place: “Backwater Blues” by Faith Gomez

Young Writers’ Poetry Prize
First Place: “Easy Does It,” “Paper Doll” and “Space Traveler” by Jessica Moore
Second Place: “Entombed,” “Makeshift” and “To Whom It May Concern” by Elizabeth Wilson

Young Writers’ Fiction Prize
First Place: “Big Jim’s Antiques” by Abby Douglas

One Act Play
First Place: “Still Waters” by Mark McGinley

KWG congratulates the winners and expresses its thanks to all who participated. For more information about future contests and events, visit

Screenwriter speaks to Knoxville writers

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Novelist and screenwriter Shannon Burke will read from his newest book, “Into the Savage Country,” at the March 2015 program of the Knoxville Writers’ Guild.

Shannon Burke

Shannon Burke will speak to the Knoxville Writers Guild beginning at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 5, 2015 at the Laurel Theater, at the corner of Laurel Avenue and 16th Streets (in Fort Sanders). A $2 donation is requested at the door. The building is handicapped accessible. Additional parking is available at Redeemer Church of Knoxville, 1642 Highland Ave. The event is open to the public.

“Into the Savage Country” is a historical adventure novel that mostly takes place on a trapping brigade in the 1820s. The novel begins as the protagonist – a young man named William Wyeth – starts west on a trapping brigade. The character makes friends, falls in love, chases buffalos and becomes involved in a struggle where the future of the country hangs in the balance.

“I grew up reading books like ‘Kidnapped,’ ‘Treasure Island,’ ‘White Fang’ and ‘The Count of Monte Cristo,’ and my intent was to write a book in that vein,” Burke said.

Burke’s previous novels were well-received and have been translated into several languages. “Safelight” (Random House 2005) was on the Kirkus and Publishers Weekly end of the year lists. “Black Flies” (Soft Skull Press 2008) was on numerous end of the year lists, was a New York Times Notable Book, a finalist for the Believer Book Award, on the Impac Dublin Literary Award Long List and runner up for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. He has worked on various films, including work on the script for the film “Syriana.”

About the Knoxville Writers’ Guild

The Knoxville Writers’ Guild exists to facilitate a broad and inclusive community for area writers, provide a forum for information, support and sharing among writers, help members improve and market their writing skills and promote writing and creativity. Additional information about KWG can be found at

Starr Hill expands into Knoxville

Knoxville, TN – Starr Hill Brewery is expanding its distribution into Knoxville, TN in early February 2015.

“Based on Starr Hill’s success in Central and Eastern Tennessee, we’re focused on satisfying the customers’ growing demand for quality craft beer in Knoxville,” said Brian McNelis, Starr Hill’s President and CEO. “We’re also encouraged to see the Volunteer State move on legislation that creates a more favorable climate in which craft breweries can prosper.”

Starr Hill’s lineup of beers available in Knoxville will be headlined by the successful Northern Lights IPA and Grateful Pale Ale.

“We’re excited to introduce our robust portfolio of beers to Knoxville,” said Robbie O’Cain, Starr Hill’s Brewmaster. “Our team looks forward to any opportunity to win that tasting moment with new customers when they discover Starr Hill.”

Starr Hill will be distributed in Knoxville by Eagle Distributing Company. After an initial 60-day draft-only launch, Starr Hill will offer the same products to the Knoxville market in package.

Obtaining an EIN for business

Getting ready to start a new business this year? With any new business, there are probably quite a few regulatory and administrative items on your new business checklist – getting permits from the city and county, registering your business name and obtaining an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, from the IRS.

An EIN is a unique nine-digit number that identifies your business for tax purposes. Think of it as the business equivalent of a social security number.


As a business owner, you’ll need an EIN to open a business bank account, apply for business licenses and file your tax returns. An EIN is needed by any business that retains employees. However, non-employers are also required to obtain one if they operate as a corporation or partnership.

The easiest way to apply for your EIN is online through the IRS. As soon as your application is complete and validated, you’ll be issued an EIN. There is no charge for this service (beware of Internet scams that will try to sell you their EIN application services). You can also apply by fax or mail.

As your business grows and matures, you may choose to change its legal or ownership structure. For example, a sole proprietor may decide to incorporate or a partnership may be taken over by one of the partners and is operated as a sole proprietorship. In instances such as these, your business will need a new EIN. Information on how to create an EIN is available at

Scott Miller headlines Bijou event

Scott Miller and The Commonwealth will perform on the U.S. Cellular Stage at the Bijou Theatre for the 2015 Bijou Jubilee.

Presented by Pilot/Flying J and supported by Ole Smoky Moonshine, the annual fundraiser takes place Saturday, March 14, 2015, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale Friday, January 30 at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster.


The Bijou is hosting an exclusive VIP Pre-Show Party again this year. With the $100 VIP ticket, guests will enjoy an exclusive acoustic performance by Scott Miller and Mic Harrison plus food and drink from Holly’s Eventful Dining, Ole Smoky Moonshine, Ashe’s Wine & Spirits, and Bearden Beer Market.

An auction featuring artist-signed instruments and framed posters will also be held during the event.

Proceeds from the event will help preserve Knoxville’s historic Bijou Theatre, located at 803 South Gay Street in downtown Knoxville.

Handmade exhibit at Emporium

The Arts & Culture Alliance proudly presents the 2nd Annual “HandMade Here: A Tennessee Craft Chapter Exhibition,” featuring original works of basketry, clay, fiber, glass, wood, metals, leather, handmade paper, mixed media, fiber, printmaking, photography.

Frank Martin, Professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville School of Art, will jury the exhibition.

Works will be displayed in the main gallery of the Emporium Center from February 6-28, 2015. Most of the works will be for sale.

A public reception will take place on Friday, February 6, from 5:00-9:00 PM. The First Friday reception also features music by Cricket & Snail in the gallery; a flamenco dance performance by Pasión Flamenco from 6:00-6:30 PM in the Black Box Theatre; and a Jazz Jam Session hosted by Vance Thompson and Friends from 7:00-9:00 PM in the Black Box Theatre. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be available and chocolate fondue will be provided by the Melting Pot of Knoxville.

Rhythm N Blooms is April 10-12

Rhythm N’ Blooms 2015 is back and ready to rock Knoxville a three-day span from April 10-12.  With the stages set exclusively along downtown Knoxville’s historic Jackson Avenue, Rhythm N’ Blooms will showcase first-timers, chart-climbers, and highly lauded acts from varied musical backgrounds.

Festival producers, Dogwood Arts and Attack Monkey Productions, are pleased to release another small taste of the 2015 festival lineup, with many more artists to be announced. In addition to The Decemberists, The Dirty Guvnah’s, and Delta Spirit, the next group of artists who will be at Rhythm N’ Blooms includes:

The Apache Relay
Humming House
Alanna Royale
Guthrie Brown & The Family Tree
Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes
*repeat repeat

Dogwood Arts is a 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to promote and celebrate our region’s arts, culture, and natural beauty.


Knoxville Jazz is for Lovers

The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s 15th anniversary 2014-15 concert season continues on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 8 p.m. with “Jazz is for Lovers” with vocalist Jane Monheit.


Jane Monheit has been a leading light in the jazz world since emerging as a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Institute’s Jazz Vocal competition in 1998. A brilliant song stylist and interpreter, Monheit has received two Grammy nominations and worked alongside notable artists such as Michael Buble, Ivan Lins, John Pizzarelli, Michael Feinstein, Tom Harrell and many others. Song selection to include Stardust, Over the Rainbow, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Where or When, Taking a Chance on Love and others. Photo credit: Timothy Saccenti.

The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra is a 17 piece big band comprised of professional musicians from across the region. Since its inception in 1999, the orchestra has performed dozens of concerts in East Tennessee, appeared on major jazz festivals in Europe, performed and recorded with internationally acclaimed guest artists, and released four critically acclaimed CD recordings.

Tickets for the event are $33.50 adult, $15.00 student. The program will be held at the Bijou Theatre at 803 South Gay Street.

Messer Construction promotes three

Knoxville, TN – Messer Construction Co. recently named Adam Chmiel, Brian Mitchell and Kyle Scoble as senior project managers in its Knoxville region office.

Chmiel joined Messer as a co-op in 2006 and was hired full-time upon earning his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Tennessee. Chmiel has contributed to several Messer projects, including Pellissippi State Community College’s Bagwell Center for Media and Art and the Scripps Networks Technology Center remodel and data center.

Mitchell joined Messer in 2004 after earning an associate degree in civil engineering and Bachelor of Science in construction management from the University of Cincinnati. Among other projects, Mitchell has worked on renovation and building projects for Tennessee School for the Deaf and Knoxville Orthopaedic Clinic.

Scoble joined Messer in 2007 upon earning his master’s degree in in civil engineering at the University of Tennessee. His Messer project experience includes UT’s John D. Tickle Engineering Building and the ongoing renovation and expansion of UT’s Sophronia Strong Hall.

“Messer experienced record growth in 2014,” Senior Project Executive John Blum said. “We’re glad to have leaders like Adam, Brian and Kyle to help us fulfill quality work and maintain our momentum in 2015.”

Messer Construction Co. is a construction manager and general contractor providing leadership for complex commercial building projects. Founded in 1932, Messer’s footprint has grown to nine regional offices located across the Midwest and Southeast. The company is consistently ranked among the country’s 100 largest contractors by Engineering News-Record, and in fiscal 2013, Messer put in place more than $830 million in commercial construction.


KWG announces 2015 board members

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Knoxville Writers’ Guild is excited to announce its 2015 Board of Directors, which will include several new faces as well as experienced board members.

Sara Keller and Kara McLain will continue to serve on the board. Keller has served since 2012 as the guild’s treasurer and will fill that office once again in 2015. McLain has been a board member and secretary since 2013 and will continue as secretary in the upcoming year. Robert Beasley, who moderates the guild’s fiction writing group based out of Maryville, will serve another year on the board. Finally, 2013-14 KWG president, Erin (Atchley) Rowland, was re-elected to the board. Rowland has been on the board since 2011.

“I feel we now have a board that is going to be absolutely dynamic in 2015. Look for a strong return of workshops and KWG presence in the Knoxville community, as well as better communication with members,” Rowland said about the 2015 board.

Newly elected board members include: Melanie Hutsell, Betty Southworth, Debra Dylan, Donna Kapa, Kelly Norrell, Doug Romig and Robert Vogel. Each of these individuals will begin their three-year term on Jan. 1, 2015.

Additional information about KWG and its members can be found at

TN Theatre celebrates milestone

In 2015, the Tennessee Theatre will celebrate a decade since it received new life through a $28 million restoration. The community is invited to a free grand reopening celebration Wednesday, Jan. 14, from 7-9 p.m., to mark the 10th anniversary milestone.

The anniversary celebration at the downtown Tennessee Theatre will include refreshments, a free performance on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ and backstage tours guided by theater historians.

Tours are limited to 75 people per tour and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early to reserve a spot for 7:15, 7:45 or 8:15 p.m.

The Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation also will unveil a 228-page coffee table book by Jack Neely entitled “The Tennessee Theatre: A Grand Entertainment Palace.”

Neely researched for the better part of a year to write the book and interviewed theater historians and living contributors to the restoration campaign. The book also contains more than 350 images spanning more than a century, including historic photographs, newspaper advertisements, architectural drawings, performers on stage at the Tennessee, movie and show posters, and more.

The Tennessee Theatre is the Official State Theatre of Tennessee and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


McCoig named Leader of the Year

Rachel McCoig, Knoxville Convention Center food and beverage manager, recently was recognized by her peers as the 2014 Leader of the Year. Knoxville Convention Center General Manager Mary Bogert presented the award during the annual employee holiday gathering.

“Every employee at the Knoxville Convention Center is hardworking and talented. To be selected as ‘Leader of the Year’ by her peers is an honor,” Bogert said. “Rachel leads by example and goes the extra mile to make sure our clients have the best experience at our facility. Her professionalism, creativity and teamwork endear her to both staff and clients.”

McCoig oversees and supervises banquet servers and is responsible for planning, budgeting and successful execution of all catering and concessions events.

McCoig joined the Convention Center staff in May 2013 with extensive experience in hospitality. Originally from Montgomery, Ala., McCoig has worked throughout the South in the food service industry before settling in Knoxville. She has served as the food services director for Valley Services Inc. in Jackson, Miss., and interim food service director at Tyler College in Tyler, Texas. Most recently, McCoig oversaw a $10 million annual operation that included refreshment, catering and dining services at the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta.

She has a bachelor’s degree in the nutrition and foods department at Auburn and served a culinary internship in 1994 at the Hotel Nicolay in Zeltingen-Rachtig, Germany.

Knoxville Mitten Tree provides warmth

More than 400 Lonsdale Elementary School students in Knoxville are a little warmer this winter, thanks to the annual Mitten Tree event sponsored by steel recycler Gerdau and held at the school during the holiday season.

When Gerdau took over operations of its Knoxville mill in 2000, the company began hosting this event to provide hats, mittens, holiday treats and a visit from Santa for the schoolchildren.

“Each year, our employees look forward to interacting with our neighborhood kids through this event,” Gerdau Vice President and General Manager Johnny Miller said. “Some of the children here today could be our future employees, and we’re happy to help keep them warm this winter.”

The Mitten Tree event has become a fun tradition for the students at Lonsdale Elementary School. For Gerdau, it helps fulfill the company’s goal of being a great neighbor.

“This holiday event is a happy and helpful celebration at Lonsdale Elementary,” Principal Amy Brace said. “The children love all the attention, games and treats. They also benefit from having hats and mittens to keep them warm during the cold winter months, which is particularly important because so many of our students walk to school. We appreciate Gerdau’s generosity in hosting the Mitten Tree year after year.”

2014-12 Gerdau - Mitten Tree

From left, Lonsdale Elementary School students Luis, Leila and Prosperity show off their new gear with Gerdau Vice President and General Manager Johnny Miller (center) after selecting their winter hats and mittens at the annual Mitten Tree event hosted at the school by Gerdau on Dec. 12. Photo submitted.

TN Smokies announce 2015 staff

KODAK, TN (December 17, 2014) – The Chicago Cubs today announced their minor league coaching staff assignments for the upcoming 2015 campaign, with 2014 manager Buddy Bailey returning to the Tennessee Smokies, along with 2014 pitching coach Storm Davis, hitting coach Desi Wilson and trainer Shane Nelson.

EDITOR’S NOTE: is all set to give away TN Smokies baseball tickets for this season, so follow us on Twitter, CelebrateKnox, for your chance to win.

Guillermo Martinez also joins the Smokies’ 2015 field staff for his first season in Kodak as an assistant coach and the fifth season at the helm of the Smokies for Bailey.

The Smokies are slated to begin the 2015 campaign on the road against the Mississippi Braves, the Double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, on Thursday, April 9, 2015 before returning to Tennessee to begin their 2015 home slate on Wednesday, April 15 versus the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.

Season ticket and multi-game voucher plans are currently available and can be purchased online at, or by calling the Smokies Ticket Office at (865) 286-2300.

Keep the magic of the season

by Dave Ramsey, Contributing Writer. It’s easy to overdo Christmas for the sake of others. But when we’re exhausted and stressed, we miss out on the magic of the season. This year, bring back your Christmas magic. And don’t let these five simple mistakes cost you any more time, money or meaning.

1. Focusing on the External
If you can’t be content until your house is Martha Stewart-perfect and your menu is Barefoot Contessa-worthy, you may need some perspective. Christmas is not about buying and serving the finest of everything.

It’s about faith, generosity and family. So if you want to deck the halls of your home for the holidays (and you can afford it), go right ahead. But give your full attention to what matters most.

Everything else is just decoration.

2. Buying Gifts Without Meaning
Choosing a gift for your Dad is impossible. Every year, you play the what-do-you-want game for weeks, until you finally give up and grab the first World’s Greatest Grandpa sweatshirt you see.

You both know you’re wasting your money, but you have to buy him something! This year, give him an experience he’ll actually remember.

It can be as simple as a round of golf for him and his buddies or donating to his favorite charity. Just show him that you took the time to remember him. That’s the best gift you can give.

3. Forgetting to Stop and Rest
You wouldn’t think of working during your summer vacation, but you hardly sit down during your winter break! What gives?

Okay, there’s a lot to do. But you’ll get it done—you always do. And once you take a day or so to rejuvenate and relax, you may actually be more productive with the rest of your time off.

Block off a few days just for you. Don’t buy anything for anyone or make a mental grocery list. Just cozy up on the couch and read or head to the spa for a massage. Think of it as a mini Christmas present to yourself.

4. Catering to Your Kids
Your pre-teen has been begging for the latest gaming console for months. You can’t afford it, but you buy it anyway. Then you feel guilty for not spending $400 on all your kids.

We’ve got a better idea. Once you and your spouse settle on a reasonable budget, sit down as a family and lay down some realistic gift guidelines.

If your son won’t give up on the Xbox and it doesn’t fit in the budget, give him a few options. He can either have one gift card for a percentage of the price, or he can have several gifts to open Christmas morning. He may decide his old game system works just fine.

5. Not Saving for Post-Holiday Sales
Retailers spend tons of money promoting their Christmas merchandise. But as soon as December 26th rolls around, they want it off the shelves—fast. And they’re willing to discount accordingly.

Instead of spending every last dime on gifts, remember to reserve some cash for the Holy Grail of Christmas sales. And only buy items you will absolutely use again next year, like bulk wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper and spools of ribbon.

When you stock up on staples now, you put money in your pocket later.

Don’t overspend or overwork yourself to extremes this season. Do what you can, and let everything else go. Trade in your holiday mistakes for a more magical, meaningful season.



Celebrate Christmas in the City

It’s Christmas in the City; there’s so much to see and enjoy in downtown Knoxville this holiday season, from making a holiday wreath at Ramsey House or visiting the Holidays on Ice skating rink in Market Square.


The Holidays on Ice skating rink is open daily through January 4, 2015 in downtown Knoxville’s Market Square. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children (season passes are also available). Admission includes skate rental and unlimited time on the ice. Photo by

On December 13 and 20, the Market Square Farmers Market hosts the Holiday Market throughout Market Square and Market Street. Vendors will have booths set up with handmade gifts, holiday decor, food and more. This is a great place to find unique gifts for everyone on your shopping list.

Parking is free in Knoxville’s Market Square (406 Walnut Street) State Street and Locust Street garages all day on weekends.

Dec. 13
Wreath Making Workshop at the Historic Ramsey House, 2614 Thorngrove Pike.
Join your friends for this great tradition of fun and creativity and go home with a beautiful natural green wreath. We supply the Holiday treats, materials and the expert instruction of Julia Shiflett and her Christmas helpers. Make your reservation in advance and bring handheld garden pruners and gloves. The social is 12:30 p.m. with the class starting promptly at 1 p.m. Sign up with a buddy or start a family tradition. Reserve your spot by calling 865-546-0745.

Dec. 14
“It’s a Wonderful Life”
Celebrate the Christmas season in the grandeur of the Tennessee Theatre, Gay Street, as Home Federal Bank presents classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Admission is free; no ticket is required. Seating is limited to the theater’s capacity. Doors open one hour prior to each screening.

Dec. 13 – 15
The Nativity Pageant of Knoxville
The pageant combines a cast of 90 members, live animals, realistic sets and authentic costumes to create a powerful presentation of the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ and the meaning of Christmas. The story is told in beautiful music and narration. The pageant is free and is interpreted for the deaf and hearing-impaired. Saturday, December 13 at 3 pm, Sunday, December 14 at 3 pm, Monday, December 15 at 7 pm, at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. Free Admission.

IRS offers year-end advice

Tax year 2014 is almost over and the tax filing season is just around the corner. Atlanta’s IRS Spokesman Mark S. Green offers free helpful year-end tax tips for you to consider:

“Taxpayers should review and gather documents now as part of their year-end tax planning. The important deadline of Dec. 31 is fast approaching and a little advance planning could save taxpayers time, stress and perhaps even money,” said Green.

Gifts to Charities – Many people give to charity each year during the holiday season. “Remember, if you want to claim a tax deduction for your gifts, you must itemize your deductions,” said Green. There are several tax rules that you should know about before you give.

Qualified charities. You can only deduct gifts you give to qualified charities. Use the IRS Select Check tool to see if the group you give to is qualified. Remember that you can deduct donations you give to churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies. This is true even if Select Check does not list them in its database.

Monetary donations. Gifts of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. You must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity to deduct any gift of money on your tax return. This is true regardless of the amount of the gift.

Year-end gifts. You can deduct contributions in the year you make them. If you charge your gift to a credit card before the end of the year it will count for 2014. This is true even if you don’t pay the credit card bill until 2015. Also, a check will count for 2014 as long as you mail it in 2014.

Records required. You must get an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. Additional rules apply to the statement for gifts of that amount. This statement is in addition to the records required for deducting cash gifts. However, one statement with all of the required information may meet both requirements. Special rules apply to several types of donated items, including clothing or household items, cars and boats.

Annual Gift Tax Exclusion You can give as much as you can afford to anyone even if they are not related to you. In 2014, you generally could give up to $14,000 to anyone and the gift will not be taxable. If you are married, both you and your spouse could have separately given gifts valued up to $14,000 to the same person without making a taxable gift.

In addition, generally Tuition or medical expenses paid directly to an educational or medical institution for someone else are not considered taxable gifts. The Lifetime Gift Exclusion is $5.34 million.

For more information, visit