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Uncorked will be held Oct. 17

The Maryville Downtown Association (MDA) announced Wednesday its 10th annual “Maryville Uncorked” Wine & Silent Auction Event, its annual fundraiser, will be held 6-9 p.m. Oct. 17.

The event will include a broad sampling of heavy hors-d’oeuvre from local restaurants, a tasting of an assortment of wines provided by Green Meadow Liquor, an introduction of select wines from the local winery Cades Cove Cellars, a signature commemorative glass, and music by Robinella and Pistol Creek.

Local restaurant participants are Sullivan’s Fine Food, Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria, R.T. Lodge, Walnut Kitchen, Vienna Coffee House, Amici and Full Service BBQ.

Held previously for the past several years at Vienna Coffee House, the event has outgrown the space and expanded to several venues on Broadway, the MDA said in a press release.

Typically sold out, the event will be held at the Capitol Theatre and Substance Solutions, both on Broadway Avenue in downtown Maryville.

A new VIP event will take place at The Everly on Broadway from 4:30-6 p.m., before the regular event. VIP ticket holders also will be admitted to the regular event.

Tickets are $45 for the regular event if purchased before Oct. 1 and $50 after. Tickets to the VIP event are $75. Designated driver tickets are available for $20 early bird and $25 at the door. Tickets will be available for sale at MaryvilleUncorked.com.

The VIP Event at the Everly includes catering from Metz Culinary, a downtown Maryville swag bag, wines exclusive to the VIP event and music by the Doug Harris Jazz Trio. In addition to food and wine tasting, there will be a Wine Grab.

Participants donate $20 for one gift-wrapped bottle of wine. The collection consists of assorted priced bottles of wine valued between $20-$150. A silent auction will include items ranging from performance tickets, art, services, gift cards to local business, and more.

Maryville Uncorked is sponsored by Russell Abbott Heating and Cooling, Tillman Companies, Blount County Partnership, The Everly, Capitol Theatre, Substance Solutions, Bill Cox Furniture, Allevia Technologies, Misty Castiglia State Farm Agency, Green Meadow Wine and Spirits, Quality Financial Concepts, Novatech, The Daily Times, CBBC Bank, David Shanks, Bryan Insurance Group, Brackins Blues Club and Northwestern Mutual.

The Maryville Downtown Association is a nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing Maryville’s downtown as a “vibrant, charming and unique gathering place,” the press release states.

The MDA uses resources available through Tennessee Main Street and the National Main Street Center’s Four Point Approach to revitalization, including design, economic revitalization, organization/finance and promotions/marketing.

What a difference a decade makes: Maryville High School highlights new career paths, apprenticeships

In the past decade how Maryville High School prepares students for their future has changed dramatically, and this school year another pathway is opening.

Principal Greg Roach offered a few highlights during Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

Among members of the Class of 2009, 92% planned to continue their education, with 72% heading to a four-year college.

Just over half the Class of 2019 was headed to a four-year college or university. With the benefit of the Tennessee Promise scholarship, 31% chose a two-year school — nearly double the amount of a decade earlier.

Fifteen percent of the most recent graduates planned to head straight to work or the military. In 2009, just 3% planned to go directly from school to work, with 5% headed to the military.

The briefing for school board members highlighted several changes through the years, leading to this week’s launch of a new apprenticeship program for all three local public school districts.

Maryville City Schools is hosting the event today at Pellissippi State Community College’s campus in Friendsville, hoping to draw students as young as seventh grade from across the county — as well as employers — to see how the program will give student an opportunity to earn while they develop the local workforce

Changing measures

Roach noted that in recent years the state of Tennessee has changed how it measures school success.

A decade ago the graduation rate was based on the number of seniors enrolled at the time of graduation who earned their diploma. Now the ratio compares diplomas to how many were enrolled in ninth grade.

Despite the tougher measure, Roach said Maryville High School’s graduation rate has risen, from about 92% to about 95%.

The state also is placing less emphasis on graduation itself and more on “Ready Graduates,” students prepared for careers and college.

One measure is an ACT score of 21 or higher, which Roach said up to 80% of MHS seniors meet. By adding ACT tutoring to the school day, MHS has increased its average ACT score even while the number of students taking the exam has expanded from only those intending to enroll in college to all students.

Earning college credit and industry certifications while in high school also counts toward a school’s number of ready graduates.

In the past decade, MHS has roughly tripled the number of Advanced Placement courses offered to 24, and the number of students taking those courses, now about 340. Meanwhile 74% to 80% score well enough on their AP exam to earn college credit

“Opening that window and expecting more students to go into coursework we know they are capable of doing is key for us,” Roach said told the board.

Maryville has grown its career and technical education (CTE) program too, more than doubling the number of classes offered over the decade to more than 30 today. “It is the largest department at the high school now,” said Donna Wortham, assistant principal at the high school and its CTE director.

The district also is offering more work-based learning experiences in the community for special education students, partnering with nearly a dozen employers who provide those short-term opportunities.

More choices

“The end game for all high school kids should be what kind of career am I going to go to,” Wortham said. “That’s really what we’re all about, is just creating a student who can walk away from us and walk confidently into that next step, whether that’s all the way to college and into a career, or what we’re hoping to do with youth apprenticeships is to take that down a level and say, okay, you can walk out of the high school with some on-the-job training, some job-related skills in your high school coursework, with close to an associate’s degree ... and then make that choice, do I go on into the workforce or do I maybe continue to work for my employer part time, in the summertime and after my school hours, and continue my education, or do I want to go straight to a four-year university and keep this awesome experience and this networking that I’ve done with this employer and come back to them and continue to grow.”

The new Tennessee Valley Youth Apprenticeships program is expected to enroll its first students in January, working in the information technology field at Maryville City Schools and PCS, a Louisville-based IT support company.

The apprenticeships also will be in four other high-demand areas: culinary arts, health sciences, construction, manufacturing/STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and construction.

“Everybody that’s in our building has got a next step,” Roach told the board.

He said the schools will be working to “rethink how we do business” to support the apprenticeship program. One reason to involve students early is so that they can complete requirements and be free to work half of the school day their senior year.

Six employers already have said they are interested in offering apprenticeships starting in 2019-20, Amy Vagnier, assistant director of Maryville City Schools, said during an interview after the meeting.

“We’ve got businesses that say, ‘We want to invest in this, because we know it’s a return on our investment,’” she said.

Students will apply for openings, and the employers will chose the workers.

Board member Chad Hampton said at the end of the meeting that he was excited about the apprenticeships.

“Whether it’s fair or not, the perception has been that we only serve kids going to college,” he said, adding that the district has made great strides in who and how it serves.

“We’ve always loved our kids and have taken care of them, but there has been a division and to see you guys leveling that playing field is just wonderful,” board member Candy Morgan said. “Everybody is getting the opportunities that they need.”

Townsend commissioners set to interview for vacated maintenance position, question status of recorder's assistant

Minor disagreements in the ranks of Townsend’s leadership pushed commissioners to call an unplanned vote at the conclusion of its September meeting, as it also hesitated a month to decide on interviewing for a full-time city maintenance position.

The Townsend Board of Commissioners tackled two decisions regarding city employees during Tuesday’s meeting. One centered around whether to replace a position on the maintenance team, the other clarified the status of a position in the city recorder’s office.

The city currently budgets only two full-time maintenance positions annually, but when one worker, Les Brady, resigned on Aug. 1 due to health concerns, the commission was tasked with replacing him.

During an Aug. 20 meeting, commissioners decided to put an advertisement in The Daily Times for a maintenance worker position with full-time pay and a benefits package.

City Recorder Danny Williamson said in an interview that because Brady had dealt with health issues previously, the city had already brought on another part-time position to help out.

After the ad ran mid August, there were 12 applicants for the position. Police Chief Kevin Condee told commissioners he selected three for review by the commission.

Commissioner Michael Talley and other officials recommended the board begin interviewing candidates after the Aug. 20 meeting.

No interviews have been held and thus far Townsend has not filled the new position.

Condee — who reports on maintenance issues each meeting — emphasized making the hire was contingent upon how much of the growing list of maintenance needs commissioners wanted to manage.

“It depends on the level of production and maintenance you guys want from the city,” Condee said in the Tuesday meeting. “We’re treading water and getting by with the fill-in help, but if you want more than that done, it requires more hours of labor.”

Condee also said though maintenance wasn’t really his “wheelhouse,” there is always a lot to be done around the city.

He indicated Townsend could get by with only one full-time and one part-time worker, but it was not an ideal situation.

“I think we have that position budgeted for a full-time spot,” Condee said. “I hate to ever go backwards ... I think that when you progress, stay that way, unless there’s some fiscal issue that causes you to go back. I would stay that you stay with that ... full-time position.”

Condee concluded his comments on the matter by restating the need for the position, pointing out that tasks around town that needed to be finished could only be “whittled” at without more man hours.

Talley agreed, though he recommended hiring someone part-time to start off so that he can ease into the position.

Condee and Commissioner Becky Headrick countered by noting the ad was for a full-time position and that’s what applicants had applied for and that starting someone out part-time would contradict the ad.

Commissioners unclear on assistant’s pay

During time for commissioner comments at the very end of the Tuesday meeting, Commissioner Jackie Suttles asked Williamson whether assistant city recorder Gayla Fisher was currently part-time or full-time.

During budgeting season in spring, the commission had hired Fisher part-time and then considered moving that position to full-time with the passage of the 2020 budget.

The passed budget included full-time pay for Fisher, Williamson told Suttles Tuesday, but Suttles said she was not aware this had happened.

The 2020 budget given to commissioners before it was passed showed the increase in the city recorder line item and Williamson said he thought there was an understanding that commissioners saw and approved this move.

“It was said that it was budgeted,” Suttles said, referring to early 2019 meetings regarding the position. “But just because it was budgeted doesn’t always mean that we use that money or spend that money. It’s just there.”

In those meetings, Suttles and other commissioners raised concerns about raising city employee salaries by 3% and especially by raising Fisher’s 7% because of the proposed full-time status.

The matter was not debated in the meeting where commissioners passed the 2020 budget, as The Daily Times reported in June.

Talley said he agreed there should have been official action on the raise and proposed a vote to recognize Fisher’s position as full-time, even though it has already been paid as such since July.

The vote passed three to two, with Headrick and Suttles voting no.

“It would be nice to feel like you’re not getting the wool pulled over your eyes,” Headrick said directly after the vote.

“That was not my intent,” Williamson said.