Orchid Awards nominations sought

KNOXVILLE, TN – 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:

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, keepknoxvillebeautiful.org, or by calling the office at 865-521-6957. Private residences are not considered for this award. Properties that received an Orchid Award since 2008 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 18, 2017. Keep Knoxville Beautiful will announce the winners of the beautification awards at the annual Orchids Awards Dinner on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 6:00 at The Standard, 416 W. Jackson Avenue, downtown Knoxville.

For more information, contact Keep Knoxville Beautiful at info@keepknoxvillebeautiful.org.

IJAMS adds additional solar panels

KNOXVILLE, TN – A $22,000 grant from the Arconic Foundation is making Ijams Nature Center a cleaner, greener place. The nonprofit, 300+-acre center used the funds to install additional solar panels on the roof of the Visitor Center.

The new panels are projected to save more than $2,700 annually in traditional electrical use. Green Earth Solar, LLC (GES) completed the installation in March 2017.

“Adding the new array saved about $540 on Ijams’ utility bill in March and April,” Ijams Facilities Manager Brenda Rayfield said. “It was such a significant savings that KUB sent out two electricians to replace our meter because they thought it was broken.”

The effort is part of Ijams’ Sustainability Initiative, which was created to educate the public about climate change and the effects of traditional energy production and use on the Earth, as well as provide information about alternative energy sources. The solar panels serve as an educational demonstration model and interpretive signage helps visitors learn about solar energy options.

“At Ijams, our mission is to educate people about nature and encourage them to become stewards of the natural world,” Ijams Executive Director Amber Parker said. “But it’s not enough to teach others to care for the Earth. Ijams needs to ‘practice what we preach’ in daily operations. Using renewable, clean energy sources to reduce Ijams’ environmental footprint is an important way to do both.

“We truly appreciate the Arconic Foundation’s support of this project,” Parker said. “Arconic’s generosity will have a significant impact on Ijams—and the environment—for years to come.”

The new 7.8-kilowatt (kW) array brings the total size of Ijams’ rooftop system to 19.04kW. Power generated each month will vary depending on the amount of sun the panels receive.

GES installed the original 11.34kW system in 2015. It produced almost two megawatt hours of power before the additional 7.8kW system was added. A megawatt hour (MWh) is equal to 1,000kW of electricity used continuously for one hour, which is approximately the same amount of electricity used by about 330 homes during one hour.

Grants from the Alcoa Foundation funded both installations. When Alcoa and Arconic split into two companies, the Arconic Foundation completed the grant process.

Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 300+-acre educational center for all ages, abilities and walks of life. Ijams’ mission is to encourage stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people to learn about and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences.

Located just three miles from downtown Knoxville, Ijams features 12 miles of hiking and mixed-use trails, a public access river dock, swimming, boating, biking and more. The center offers hundreds of educational programs annually, from school field trips and off-site programs to on-site outdoor and classroom education programs. Classes focus on topics from birding and wildflowers to yoga hikes, cooking and art. The Ijams grounds and trails are open daily from 8 a.m. until dusk. The Visitor Center is open during the summer from Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit Ijams.org or call 865-577-4717.

Knoxville hosts alt fuel rally

KNOXVILLE – Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) hosted a stop on the second annual ‘From Sea-to- Shining-Sea’ Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) Road Rally Across America, a nationwide initiative highlighting the many benefits of using natural gas in transportation and the wide variety of vehicles currently operating on natural gas.

The spectrum of rally vehicles – ranging from a sedan to Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) 3D-printed utility vehicle – illustrated the diverse private and commercial uses of clean-burning CNG.

Presented by NGVAmerica, American Public Gas Association (APGA) and American Gas Association (AGA), the rally launched outside of Long Beach, California, on June 5, and will conclude in Washington, D.C., on June 16. The journey includes 18 stops and covers 4,825 miles, demonstrating the growing availability of natural gas fueling stations across the country.

The event took place at KUB’s recently opened, publicly accessible compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station at 1820 Third Creek Road in Knoxville. The station began fueling KUB’s CNG fleet in November 2016 and celebrated its grand opening for public use in April.

“We are honored to host this rally to encourage and celebrate the use of clean burning natural gas in vehicles throughout our nation,” KUB President and CEO Mintha Roach said. “It is exciting to see the variety of vehicles today from organizations that share KUB’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability.”

Roach announced during the program that KUB’s fleet this year earned Tennessee Green Fleet certification from the Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition. The program certifies fleets based on actual impacts and other actions taken to improve fleet sustainability and efficiency. KUB’s fleet began using CNG in the 1970s and now also includes vehicles powered by electric hybrid technology, E85 flex fuel and biodiesel.

A variety of alternative fuel vehicles from KUB, Sevier County Utility District, Gibson County Utility District, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas and Johnston North America fleets were on display at the rally, illustrating that any fleet can reap the cost and environmental benefits of CNG.

At the event, KUB presented the City of Knoxville with the First Fleet Award to recognize the city’s status as the CNG fueling station’s first fleet customer and for its leadership in alternative fuel use.

“As a local government, we seek to lead by example and show how practical, cost-saving investments can benefit our environment and the sustainability of our community,” Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said. “We thank KUB for setting an example for our community through a longtime commitment to sustainable practices.”

ORNL presented a look at the future with its 3D-printed utility vehicle, a natural-gas- powered hybrid electric vehicle using bi-directional wireless charging for a new approach to energy use and storage. Researchers at the lab’s National Transportation Research Center are examining new and innovative ways to maximize energy efficiency through transformative science and integrated technology solutions.

The Tennessee Call 811 hot air balloon also was on hand to support the event. The balloon travels the country as a reminder of the importance of calling 811 before digging to avoid accidental damage to underground utility lines, including natural gas lines.

CNG is an environmentally friendly gasoline and diesel alternative made by compressing natural gas to less than 1 percent of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. Costing about half as much as gasoline or diesel fuel and releasing about 90 percent fewer emissions, CNG protects the environment and makes driving more affordable.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero accepts from KUB President and CEO Mintha Roach the First Fleet Award at KUB’s publicly accessible compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station on June 13, 2017. The presentation acknowledges the city’s leadership in alternative fuel use and was part of the “From-Sea- to-Shining- Sea” Natural Gas Vehicle Road Rally Across America. Photo submitted.

JIAM is certified LEED

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. The U.S. Green Building Council has certified the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials (JIAM) at Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus as LEED Silver. The certification has been verified by the Green Building Certification Institute. LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a globally recognized symbol of excellence in green building. LEED-certified buildings are resource efficient, using less water and energy than other structures. JIAM was designed by BarberMcMurry architects.

Through JIAM, Cherokee Farm tenants have access to materials science research capabilities available at only a handful of facilities worldwide. Additionally, JIAM is a multidisciplinary facility, marrying its capabilities with those of other research facilities at both the adjacent University of Tennessee main campus and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

JIAM has earned two awards so far in 2017: the Orchid Award for environmental stewardship from Keep Knoxville Beautiful and the Honor Award from the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus is an ideal fit for firms that will benefit from close partnerships with UT and ORNL and access to the unparalleled capabilities of the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials. The campus is leasing space and will build to suit.

Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus in Knoxville, Tennessee, is the Southeast’s only research and development park where the resources of a major research university and a leading national laboratory are combined with globally recognized researchers expressly for the benefit of tenants.

The campus is a collaborative effort of the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Located on 188 acres on the banks of the Tennessee River, the campus has 77 developable acres and includes 16 building sites that support approximately 1.6 million square feet of development. Parcels are available for immediate development, and research suite leasing is underway.

Cherokee Farm Innovation Campus’ $56 million, 140,000-square- foot Joint Institute for Advanced Materials has achieved LEED Silver status from the U.S. Green Building Council. Photo courtesy Cherokee Farm. For more information, visit http://www.cherokeefarm.org.

KUB adds CNG fueling station

KUB celebrates the official opening of Knoxville’s first public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station and receipt of a grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to help expand KUB’s fleet of alternative fuel vehicles.

CNG, an environmentally friendly gasoline and diesel alternative, powers the cleanest vehicles in commercial production today. The fuel is made by compressing natural gas to less than 1 percent of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. Costing about half as much as gasoline or diesel fuel and releasing about 90 percent fewer emissions, CNG protects the environment and makes driving more affordable.

KUB’s commitment to stewardship and sustainability was the impetus behind the decision to invest $2.5 million to open the publicly accessible CNG fueling station. It replaces an outdated station that was available only for KUB’s fleet.

Located at 1820 Third Creek Road in Knoxville, the station was designed and built by TruStar Energy CNG, which also manages operations. TDEC officials were on hand to present KUB a $67,500 grant.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero praised the station as being good for the city and the state.

“This station bolsters our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and make Knoxville greener,” Rogero said. “In addition to providing service to the City of Knoxville’s CNG vehicles, it fills a void in the state’s network of public CNG stations by adding service near the junction of interstates 40 and 75.”

According to General Electric (GE), natural gas currently powers more than 12 million vehicles around the world, but only about 250,000 CNG vehicles currently operate in the United States.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero pumps compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel into a city fleet truck alongside KUB President and CEO Mintha Roach and City of Knoxville Public Service Area Manager Alex Neubert at the grand opening of KUB’s publicly accessible CNG fueling station on April 19. The station, located at 1820 Third Creek Road in Knoxville, is open to the public 24 hours per day. Photo submitted.

Transportation draft available for review

With a gas tax increase among the most important topics for the 2017 Tennessee legislature, a new study from the University of Tennessee Knoxville shows that a majority of Tennesseans want more investment in biking and walking. According to a recent poll, if the gas tax is increased, 57 percent of Tennesseans support increased funding for biking, walking, and transit.

A majority of registered voters also believe that investments in walking and biking infrastructure are investments in safety. Tennesseans also said they are more likely to support a gas tax increase if local governments retain control over how to spend this money.

Bike riders are a common sight in Market Square, downtown Knoxville. Long range plans for bike lanes connecting five counties could provide increased opportunities for economic growth as well as benefits for health and fitness in East Tennessee. Photo by CelebrateKnoxville.com.

Mobility Plan 2040 is the long-range transportation plan for the Knoxville region (including Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, and Sevier). The plan guides transportation decisions and funding over the next 20 years.

The first draft of Mobility Plan 2040 is available for public review and comment. Comments will be accepted until the end of January 2017. Visit http://knoxmobility.org/recent/the-first-draft-of-mobility-plan-2040-is-now-available/

Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization is also taking comments on the revised project list – including greenways and bicycle facilities in the region. There is an interactive map, which can be used to view all projects, or just bicycle and pedestrian projects. Readers can also look at just the projects in specific counties, can comment on a specific project via the interactive map (click on the project, then on “details” in the pop-up box) or email with general comments.

National home sales up 5.2 percent

WASHINGTON – Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 5.2 percent in November 2016 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 592,000 units, according to newly released data by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“New home sales showed growing strength in 2016, and builders expect more of the same next year,” said Ed Brady, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill. “A key to continued growth in 2017 will be to ensure that prospective, qualified first-time home buyers have access to affordable home loans.”

“NAHB expects an increase in single-family home construction next year, fueled by a growing economy and solid job growth,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Moreover, builder confidence has risen on anticipation of reductions in regulatory costs, which is good news for home buyers and renters. However, the pace of construction will continue to be restricted by shortages of lots and labor in some markets.”

The inventory of new home sales for sale was 250,000 in November, which is a 5.1-month supply at the current sales pace. The median sales price of new houses sold was $305,400.

Regionally, new home sales increased 43.8 percent in the Midwest and 7.7 percent in the West. Sales were unchanged in the Northeast and fell 3.1 percent in the South.


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 www.pilotpumpers.com.

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

Pilot Pumpers 2015 Logo

Pilot Corp to offer Shell brand

Starting this month, Pilot Corporation will begin offering Shell gasoline at 29 Knoxville-area Pilot Convenience Stores. The locations will sell grades of Shell-branded unleaded gasoline, and the fuel islands will be branded with the Shell logo. The new affiliation will allow Pilot customers to participate in the Fuel Rewards® and grocery rewards programs.

Pilot will maintain ownership and management of all convenience store locations, and all stores will be updated with the new Pilot branding and logo. Pilot team members will continue to serve customers in the stores.

“Shell is known for its high-quality products and service, and those are the same values we pride ourselves on at Pilot,” said Pilot Flying J President Ken Parent. “This affiliation allows us to extend Shell products to our guests and team members at their neighborhood stores. They will also be able to participate in the Fuel Rewards and grocery rewards programs. We’re excited to begin our work together.”

All Pilot Convenience Store locations will continue to accept Pilot Fleet Cards, and Pilot MyRewards cards will continue to be used for in-store retail promotions. The other nine Pilot Convenience Stores will continue to sell Pilot-branded fuel.

Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, Pilot Corporation operates 38 convenience stores in East Tennessee, employing more than 400 local team members.

Shell Oil Company is a global group of energy and petrochemical companies with operations in more than 70 countries. In the U.S., Shell operates in 50 states and employs more than 20,000 people.

KCDC awarded housing tax credits

Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) has announced that Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) has been awarded $1,100,000 in annual tax credits for a ten-year period for the continued development of affordable housing in the Five Points community.

“We are building great momentum in Five Points, and with the awarding of these tax credits, we will continue to move full steam ahead in our work to provide quality affordable housing in this community,” KCDC Executive Director Art Cate said. “The revitalization of Five Points is taking shape, and the community has many reasons to proud of the progress we’ve made together and the many achievements still to come.”

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is a credit against federal income tax liability each year for 10 years for owners and investors in low-income rental housing. The low-income housing tax credits announced will be used to raise private equity to build Phase 2 of the Five Points Master Plan.

The new, Phase 2 development will include 84 units with varying numbers of bedrooms in 10 buildings. The apartments will be built along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue between McConnell and Olive streets.

“The LIHTC program is extremely competitive across the state,” THDA Executive Director Ralph M. Perrey said. “These credits were awarded based on the need for affordable housing in the Five Points community, and because there was a solid plan in place to meet that need by constructing new housing units for individuals and families of low income.”

In May, 2016 KCDC broke ground on The Residences at Five Points, a 90-unit housing complex for senior citizens and the disabled, as Phase 1 of the Five Points Master Plan to revitalize the neighborhood.

The Five Points Master Plan was developed through a series of community input meetings that were completed in January 2014. The master plan is a multiphase, multiyear project with a total cost of approximately $85 million. Nearly five years into the revitalization efforts, KCDC already has invested more than $31 million in new affordable housing through the Residences at Eastport, infill housing and the under-construction Residences at Five Points.

The master plan includes the demolition of Walter P. Taylor Homes and Dr. Lee Williams Senior Complex and replacement with newly constructed modern, energy-efficient units. Design plans are being finalized, and construction on these additional units should begin early next year.

Since 1936, KCDC has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for the citizens of Knoxville and Knox County. KCDC’s mission is to improve and transform neighborhoods and communities by providing quality affordable housing, advancing development initiatives and fostering self-sufficiency.

For more information, call 865-403- 1100 or visit http://www.kcdc.org.

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.

Kid’s night out at the museum

KNOXVILLE—The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will host its first “Night at the McClung Museum” family sleepover from 7 p.m. Friday, June 17, 2016 to 8 a.m. Saturday, June 18.

The sleepover will provide children ages 5 to 11 and their parents the opportunity to spend an unforgettable night with dinosaurs and explore the museum’s new special exhibition, “Dinosaur Discoveries: Ancient Fossils, New Ideas,” on loan from the American Museum of Natural History, which reveals a vivid picture of what living, breathing dinosaurs were really like. The event also will feature family-friendly activities including dino-related crafts, a flashlight tour, games, a movie screening and bedtime stories.


Tickets are $40 a person for museum members and $50 a person for nonmembers and include all activities and craft supplies, a survival pack with an exclusive event-themed bag, flashlight, evening snacks and supplies, and breakfast Saturday morning. Tickets may be purchased online or over the phone at 865-974-2144. Online ticket purchases will incur an additional processing fee. All children must be age 5 to 11 at the time of the sleepover and must be accompanied by an adult chaperone.

Participants can be dropped off and picked up in front of the museum, or parking passes will be available for $10 for those wishing to park their car overnight.

The McClung Museum is at 1327 Circle Park Drive. Museum admission is free, and the museum’s hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 1–5 p.m. Sundays. Groups may schedule tours by calling 865-974-2144 or emailing museum@utk.edu.

Free two-hour museum parking passes are available from the parking information building at the entrance to Circle Park Drive on weekdays by request. Free parking is available on Circle Park Drive on a first-come, first-served basis on weekends. Free public transportation to the museum is also available via the Knoxville Trolley Vol Line.

Book explores nature of the universe

CELEBRATE KNOXVILLE – It’s National Star Wars Day, and Celebrate Knoxville spent a little time on the phone today with UCLA researcher and astrophysicist Dr. Jeff Zweerink to discuss his recent book, “Whose Afraid of the MultiVerse?” Written in easy-to-read style, with illustrations from popular culture including Star Wars movies, the book explores ideas about space, time, matter, and energy.


CK: Thanks for talking with us on National Star Wars Day, Dr. Zweerink!

JZ: Glad to do it. I didn’t realize that was today.

CK: Is most of your work analyzing data or do you actually get to do experiments with gamma rays?

JZ: About 40 percent of my time is spent on experiments. We’re currently building a balloon that (once we get the funding) we will send out to collect data.

CK: When you talk about The Big Bang in ‘Whose Afraid of the MultiVerse?’, why do you use the word ‘inflation’ and not ‘explosion’ to describe what happened?

JZ: It’s a scientific term to describe the expansion of the fabric of space.

CK: As a layperson, it makes me think that the universe took a breath, like lungs filling up. Doesn’t using the word ‘inflation’ imply that something was sucked in from somewhere else, and what would that substance be?

JZ: I can see what you mean by that. Scientists use this word to describe one possible (scenario) that is like a balloon with dots on it. When the fabric expands, the dots move apart.

CK: On page 14 of your book, you said ‘the only real controversial aspect of the level one model (of the universe) is its spacial extent, or size.’ Are there really scientists out there in California that think the universe has a finite size, like a box, or like the earth is sitting on the back of a tortoise (to use Native American mythology)?

JZ: You can think of the universe as flat, in three dimensions like a piece of paper, but there are other ways to think about it. In a closed model, like the one on page 11 of the book, the universe would be ball-shaped with closed geometry.

CK: In your introduction, you inform the reader that you are a scientist with a Christian world view. Do you think that God placed the planets in such a way that it models sub atomic particles and helps us understand the nature of the unseen?

JZ: I think that there are signs both in the way the universe has been presented and in what we know about quantum physics that reveals the designer, creator, God. Whether they are exact mirrors of each other, I can’t say.

CK: I love how you use illustrations from popular movies like Star Wars, The Matrix, and Back to the Future, to help people understand some of these interesting but complex scientific ideas. Have you ever seen the television series, Lost?

JZ: I have.

CK: Do you think (as an astrophysicist who is also a Christian) that the story is a good example of a shared consciousness, and that we, as believers, are co-creating Heaven, a shared consciousness, with God?

JZ: There are some serious (mainstream Christianity) theological issues with that point of view, especially about the soverignty of God. He doesn’t need our help.

CK: But we do co-create with Him when we pray, right? We make things happen that otherwise might not have happened unless we were involved?

JZ: Yes, we do. That’s an interesting point. Not certain that applies to Heaven, though. Would make some interesting further discussion. When I first became a scientist, I thought that science and faith were enemies. Now I have come to understand that revelations from both science and faith (Scriptural revelation) will inform the other and both will agree.

CK: In your book you said that “Scientists are aware that their equipment selects what data they measure.” How does that relate to changes made by the Observer in quantum physics?

JZ: That’s one of the philosophical questions discussed in the book–in having the point of view as the universe being designed by a Creator to support life, we ourselves are Observer and are working within the realm we’re working to describe. We can’t argue for a universe that does not support life, since we are here and we are alive.

CK: That’s the topic of a new book?

JZ: Yes, my new book is about Exoplanets, planets outside our solar system, exploring questions about the possibility of life out there.

CK: And if there is life out there, Jesus died for them too, and would not have to be born on their planet to (provide spiritual revelation) enlightenment?

JZ: If they are human. Jesus being born as human, the incarnation, is crucial.

CK: But what is human? Scripture says God created man from dirt. And any other planet out there would have dirt of some kind, right? Or are you saying in the case of life not being carbon-based…

JZ: Well now we’re talking about the same kinds of issues with the multiverse, where we have infinite possibilities in infinite time…

CK: And I love how in your book, you say that Marty McFly’s time line where he does not go back into the future still exists!

JZ: If the multiverse exists.

CK: And would you say that if the multiverse does exists, the life, death, resurrection of Christ is the only event that does happen without change, and is central to all other events, which could and would be free to happen any number of ways and still be meaningful?

JK: If the multiverse exists, that would have to be true. You know there is a group that meets in Knoxville that discusses these kinds of questions, and is open to all people interested in science, regardless of world view.

CK: I saw that. We actually have several science-related Meet Up groups in Knoxville. And of course Knoxville is a college town with the University of Tennessee, so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with scientific studies there too. So fun! For my last question, how can people get a copy of “Whose Afraid of the MultiVerse?” or find out more about your work?

JZ: Send them to the web site, Reasons.org.

TN Theatre to upgrade iconic sign

More than a decade after the creation of the new blade sign and marquee, the Tennessee Theatre is launching a fundraising campaign to refurbish the iconic sign and replace the lighting technology with brighter, energy-efficient bulbs.

“The Tennessee Theatre is one of the most photographed landmarks in the state and holds an emotional attachment for East Tennesseans as a symbol of our region,” Tennessee Theatre Executive Director Becky Hancock said. “As part of our commitment to ensuring the theater remains vibrant and protecting the community’s investment of the grand restoration more than 11 years ago, it is time for us to update the technology for the sign and complete necessary maintenance. We are asking the community for support as we undertake this important project.”

Tennessee Theatre will host a free open house Saturday, April 30, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with backstage tours and Mighty Wurlitzer organ music. Attendees can purchase merchandise, bulbs and letters to support the campaign and learn more about the history of the iconic blade sign and marquee on Gay Street.

To support the marquee campaign, visit www.tennesseetheatre.com/marquee.


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 center with advanced technology, staging and lighting that draws top entertainment to the Knoxville area.

TVA sponsors Knoxville robotics

KNOXVILLE, TN     The Tennessee Valley Authority has expanded its community investment in S.T.E.M. education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) by announcing a $10,000 presenting sponsorship  for the 2016 Annual Robotics Revolution to be held in Chilhowee Park this summer.


This STEM awareness event is both entertaining and academic and is geared to inspire young minds toward a college and career interest in a variety of STEM fields. The event will showcase connections that exist between K-12 STEM educational opportunities, university and training institutions, applied research and product development and the companies that benefit from these educational investments.

“Robotics Revolution has hosted almost 3,000 attendees in the previous two years.  State-of-the-art corporations always benefit from a well-educated workforce and TVA’s investment in Robotics Revolution demonstrates how events like this are meeting this need in our community,” says Ellie Kittrell, Executive Director for The Muse Knoxville, who is hosting the robotics event.

The Muse Knoxville is a non-profit children’s science museum located in Historical Chilhowee Park.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.



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.

Home show scheduled for February 2016

KNOXVILLE, TN – Matt Blashaw, licensed contractor and host of HGTV’s Vacation House for Free, and Tiffany Brooks, season eight winner of HGTV Star and host of HGTV’s Smart Home 2016, are coming to Knoxville to share their expertise on house renovation, real estate and interior design at the 38th annual House & Garden Show.

The Dogwood Arts House & Garden Show runs February 12 – 14 at the Knoxville Convention Center in downtown Knoxville, Tenn.

Matt Blashaw

A native of Orange County, Calif., Matt Blashaw spent his teen years working at his father’s lumberyard before graduating from Chapman University. He then moved on to a variety of jobs in the construction and entertainment industries. A stint with the technical services group at Disney taught him about show effects and electrical installation. Today, when he’s not sharing his expertise with HGTV viewers, Matt works as a real estate agent and builds homes in Orange County. Photo submitted.

Tiffany Brooks, recently named as one of the nation’s Top 20 African American Interior Designers, is a wife and working mom who loves spending time growing her residential interior design business. She first demonstrated her design talent when she was offered the opportunity to stage model homes while working in property management. After one of her model-home designs won an award, she decided to follow her passion for interior design full-time. Tiffany’s design style is “classic with a twist,” and she enjoys mixing traditional pieces with a little rock ‘n’ roll.


The Dogwood Arts House & Garden Show celebrates its 38th year as the largest annual fundraiser for Dogwood Arts. The Dogwood Arts House & Garden Show runs February 12 – 14, 2016 at the Knoxville Convention Center in downtown Knoxville, Tenn.


Single family 55+ market strong

WASHINGTON – Builder confidence in the single-family 55+ housing market remains strong in the third quarter of 2015 with a reading of 60, up three points from the previous quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) 55+ Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the sixth consecutive quarter with a reading above 50.

“Builders have a positive outlook on the 55+ housing market,” said Timothy McCarthy, chairman of NAHB’s 55+ Housing Industry Council and managing partner of Traditions of America in Radnor, Pa. “In fact, the markets for single-family, apartments and condos are all doing quite well, and we expect that trend to continue.”

All four indices tracking production and demand of 55+ multifamily rentals posted gains in the third quarter. Present production rose nine points to 55, expected future production and current demand for existing units jumped 11 points to 60 and 70, respectively, and future demand increased five points to 68.

“Like the overall housing market, we continue to see steady, positive growth in the 55+ market,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “With the economy and job growth continuing to improve gradually, many consumers are now able to sell their current homes at a suitable price, enabling them to buy or rent in a 55+ community.”


Knoxville hosts Science Week events

An event celebrating the growing interest in nuclear science will be centered in Knoxville next week for the Nuclear Science Week at the Knoxville Convention Center on Oct. 22-24, 2015.

“Because of our area’s strength in scientific businesses and organizations, Knoxville is perfectly positioned to host scientific meetings and conferences,” said Mary Bogert, general manager for the Knoxville Convention Center. “We are excited to host this event, which covers all aspects of nuclear science, and promotes East Tennessee as an area of innovation through such organizations as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y-12 National Security Complex, Provision Center for Proton Therapy and the University of Tennessee.”

The three-day event showcases some of East Tennessee’s leaders in nuclear science. The primary focus of Nuclear Science Week 2015 is uniting the community and world through nuclear science.

Panel discussions and presentations will take place Friday, Oct. 23, at the Knoxville Convention Center. Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero will welcome conference-goers at 8:20 a.m. and introduce the day of panels. A public screening of a new film about nuclear energy, titled “Pandora’s Promise,” will be shown concurrently at 6:30 p.m. at the Convention Center and Oak Ridge Associated Universities Pollard Technology Conference Center.

The week also will include sessions for students and teachers to learn about concepts and current issues of nuclear science in the region and internationally. On Thursday, Oct. 22, local kindergarten through sixth-grade students will participate in interactive nuclear science and engineering activities, including nuclear detection demonstrations, cloud chambers, electromagnets and atom assembly at two sessions from 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m.

All Nuclear Science Week activities and panels are free and open to the public. Prior registration is encouraged at http://www.nuclearscienceweek.org. A schedule also is available on the website.

Governor begins transportation review

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has announced that he will be traveling the state with Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer over the next six weeks to discuss the state’s transportation and infrastructure needs relating to the functionality and capacity of Tennessee’s state roads and highways, safety issues around roads and bridges, and the impact infrastructure has on economic development efforts in urban and rural communities.

“Tennessee’s transportation and infrastructure system always ranks at or near the top when compared to the rest of the country,” Haslam said. “We have no transportation debt, and we do a great job maintaining our roads, but we know we have challenges on the horizon.”

The 15 meetings will be held throughout August and early September in Memphis, Clarksville, Union City, Jackson, Nashville, Franklin, Kingsport, Greeneville, Shelbyville, Murfreesboro, Crossville, Chattanooga, Cleveland, Lenoir City and Knoxville. Participants will include state legislators, mayors, local elected officials, business leaders, chamber of commerce executives, and local infrastructure officials.

“TDOT is responsible for taking care of the assets we already have, for implementing current projects in the most cost-effective way, and for planning for the state’s infrastructure needs of the future,” Schroer said. “In putting together a long range plan, we look to Tennessee communities to help prioritize these projects to make sure we’re addressing evolving traffic patterns, population growth, safety issues, and the many other things that impact our infrastructure. These conversations are invaluable to the process.”

The first meeting will be held Wednesday, August 5, 2015 in Memphis at the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce.

Five Points redevelopment begins

Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation has entered into an agreement with The Communities Group to serve as co-developer on upcoming phases of the Five Points revitalization.

“This relationship with The Communities Group is a very important one,” KCDC Executive Director and CEO Art Cate said. “We have searched for a master developer partner from candidates across the country and were tremendously impressed with the company’s expertise and decades of experience in affordable housing redevelopment. Its talented staff will be an asset to us for Five Points and other major development and redevelopment initiatives.”

The initial agreement with The Communities Group outlines a 50/50 co-developer relationship to assist KCDC staff with planning, design, land use, development, construction and the securing of financing on Phases 2 through 4 of the Five Points Master Plan.

“We are excited to formalize and expand our partnership with The Communities Group.” said Dan Murphy, chair of the KCDC Board of Commissioners. “As the housing and redevelopment authority of the City of Knoxville and Knox County, KCDC is a regional model of a progressive, innovative agency. With The Communities Group, we have access to even more knowledge, expertise and resources for local projects and to offer our partners in the region.”

KCDC, The Communities Group and Thomas Point Associates currently are working with the City of Knoxville on the Jackson Avenue predevelopment market study, which includes the KCDC-owned former sites of the McClung Warehouses. The report will guide the next steps of redevelopment in that area.

Based in Washington, D.C., The Communities Group is one of the top affordable housing development experts in the country. The firm has experience with redevelopment funded through various U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs and grants, including HOPE VI, Choice Neighborhoods and Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants, among others.

KCDC is the housing authority and redevelopment agency for Knoxville.

For more information, visit http://www.kcdc.org.

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.

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.

IJAMS hosts eCycle event

KNOXVILLE – On Saturday, March 28, 2015, Ijams Nature Center will host a community e-waste recycling event. Organized and conducted by eCycle of Knoxville, the collection will provide an opportunity for local residents to safely and responsibly dispose of old and unwanted appliances and electronics.

The collection will be open from 10 am to 2 pm in the overflow parking lot across the street from the main Ijams entrance at 2915 Island Home Avenue. There will be signs directing people to the drop-off location, and there will be staff on hand to assist with unloading.

eCycle will accept all types of electronics and appliances with the exception of CRT televisions. Accepted electronics include but are not limited to televisions, desktop and laptop computers, speakers, stereos, and kitchen appliances. They will also accept accessories, cables, and cell phones as well as scrap metal.

According to the EPA, e-waste recyclers recover more than 100 million pounds of materials annually. Responsible companies like eCycle of Knoxville ensure that these materials are reused or disposed of in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

Ijams Nature Center is a 300-acre urban greenspace encouraging stewardship of the natural world by providing engaging outdoor experiences.

About eCycle of Knoxville: eCycle was formed to address the tremendous need our local businesses had to correctly dispose of their electronic and computer e-waste. What started as a venture has grown into a venue collecting as much as 40,000 lbs of recyclable material per month. eCycle accepts all electronic, computer and metal waste including printers and appliances. They are a licensed electronics recycle business and use R2 certified recycle companies for downstream channels.


Knoxville recycling turns to art

KNOXVILLE – Sculptures created by 12 University of Tennessee art students that incorporate materials provided by steel recycler Gerdau will be on public display April 3-19, 2015 at the Knoxville Convention Center.

“The Art of Recycling” sculpture exhibition celebrates April’s National Recycling Month and a partnership among Gerdau, Dogwood Arts and the University of Tennessee Sculpture Program. The sculptures will be unveiled in a public ceremony Friday, April 3, at 10 a.m. Though the partnership always has resulted in new works of art, 2015 is the first time it has culminated in a public art exhibition.

Participating UT students include Rachel Byrd, Veronica Castle, Keelin Cavanaugh, Kylee Haynes, Daniel Hood, Cameron Kite, Marisa Mitchell, Lauren Sanders, Paige Smith, Patricia Tinsley, Nicholas Tamas and Kenzie Wells.

2014-01 Gerdau - Scrapyard Dig
John Powers, University of Tennessee assistant professor of sculpture, and student Paige Smith survey the massive piles of discarded metal and steel at Gerdau’s scrapyard. A dozen students will create works of art from materials selected from the scrapyard, and the art will be on display during April 2015, National Recycling Month. Photo submitted.

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.

Sustainable Coffee Bread recipe

Sustainable Cooking by Mary June Thompson, Food Writer, Celebrate Knoxville, February 20, 2015. – There are a lot of ways to utilize a sustainable cooking philosophy in the kitchen, and not just with food. At my house, we drink a lot of coffee, and we prefer a specific brand that is sold in tin cans. Not only do those cans keep the coffee very fresh, but they have a myriad of other handy uses once the coffee is consumed, including bacon grease cans, paint cans, storage cans, and even baking vessels.

Bread that has finished baking in the can

So today I would like to share a recipe I developed that not only reuses the coffee grounds, but also repurposes the coffee tin as well. It would also make a great homemade gift idea, as the bread is actually very simple to make, especially for a yeast bread, and a load of bread baked in a coffee can makes a whimsical and fun presentation.

My bread is purposely quite a bit less sweet than one would expect a chocolate bread to be. I made it this way for a couple of reasons: First, the coffee notes in the bread are more noticeable with less sugar, and second, I wanted a bread that I could enhance with sugary things and not be overwhelmed by an excess of sweetness. This bread is absolutely perfect with a smear of Nutella, and it is also complemented by maple syrup when used as the basis for chocolate French toast. Add some fresh sliced strawberries on top, and you’ve got a perfect breakfast, brunch, or snack time treat that is fresh, healthy, and sustainable.

A Few Simple Ingredients Make a Lovely Home Baked Bread

Chocolate Coffee Can Bread

Special Equipment:

Candy thermometer


½ pound metal coffee can (Note: Don’t use one with a coated lining for health

Kitchen string


Non-stick cooking spray

½ cup milk

2 Tablespoons used coffee grounds

1 teaspoon fast-acting yeast

1 Tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup bread flour, plus an extra cup or so for kneading

¼ cup cocoa powder

2 Tablespoons neutral-tasting oil, such as canola, vegetable, or safflower

1 large egg, at room temperature

Coffee Grounds Bundle


Spray interior of coffee can thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Using at least four layers of cheesecloth, cut out a section large enough to hold the
coffee grounds with enough additional space to tie the bundle at the top. Place coffee grounds in center of cheesecloth and tie together securely with kitchen string. (See photo.)

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. In another
small bowl, whisk together the egg and oil. Set both bowls aside.

In a small saucepan, add the milk and bundle of coffee grounds. Warm the milk over
medium heat to reach 110°F on a candy thermometer, pressing occasionally on bundle to release the liquid and infuse the milk with coffee flavor.

Once the milk has reached 110°F, remove from heat, press all liquid from the coffee
bundle, discard coffee bundle, and stir in yeast. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, then add the egg mixture and stir until incorporated. You should have a moist, sticky dough at this point. (See photo.)

Flour a large, flat work surface and the exterior of the dough ball generously. Place
dough on floured surface and begin to knead the dough with floured hands, adding a small amount of flour as needed, just enough to keep the dough from being sticky. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 5-6 minutes. Place dough into prepared coffee tin. Cover coffee tin with a clean kitchen towel and set in a warm place for an hour to an hour and a half, or until dough has risen above rim of can. Pre-heat oven to 375°F.

Once dough has risen, place can into the center of the pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into center of dough comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the can until the can is cool enough to touch. Remove bread and cool thoroughly on a wire rack before slicing, or return to can if giving as a gift.


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.

Round It Up benefits needy

KNOXVILLE – On Tuesday, November 25, at 10 a.m. the City of Knoxville, KUB and Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee will introduce the Round It Up program, a pilot program that will raise funds through customers of KUB to help weatherize the homes of low-income homeowners and renters.

The program was developed in response to the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge report which found that the city has an aging housing infrastructure that consumes energy in excess, often leaving the city’s most vulnerable residents (the elderly, physically disabled, mentally ill and low-income families) with utility bills too large to pay.

The announcement event will include remarks from Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, CAC Executive Director Barbara Kelly, KUB President and CEO Mintha Roach and KUB board chair Bruce Anderson.