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United Way halfway to fundraising goal

KINGSPORT — The United Way of Greater Kingsport has reached nearly half its goal during this year’s fundraising campaign, officials announced Thursday.

During a press conference at Pal’s Sudden Service in downtown Kingsport, Greg Perdue (vice-chair of this year’s campaign) said the United Way has raised $1.41 million (47%) of its $3 million goal to date.

“It’s a great start, but we’ve got to keep our foot on the gas,” Perdue said.

This $1.41 million is money that’s been raised mostly by the pacesetters — companies and organizations that conduct workplace campaigns prior to the kickoff of the community campaign, which took place in August.

Pacesetter companies include Bank of Tennessee, Citizens Bank, Eastman, Eastman Credit Union, First Horizon Bank, the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, the Kingsport Housing & Redevelopment Authority, Powell Valley National Bank and Primester Cerdia.

Thursday’s event also kicked off the restaurant campaigns, starting with the Pal’s Change Drive. The community will see cans at all Pal’s locations in the greater Kingsport area through Oct. 11.

“Your Change Makes a Change” is the slogan for the change drive, reminding donors that every coin and dollar has an impact in the greater Kingsport community.

“I’m often asked, ‘Why United Way?’ and I say, ‘It brings community resources together to best serve others in need,’ ” said Chad Austin, chair of this year’s fundraising campaign.

“I know if the closest people to me are using these services, there is someone in your circle that is among the 1,400 lives that are affected every day through the agencies we serve.”

You can hear personal impact stories by visiting www.uwaykpt.org/2021campaign.

Donations can be made by going online to uwaykpt.org/give, by texting uwaykpt to 269-89, or by mailing a check to 301 Louis St., Suite 201, Kingsport, TN 37660. For more information, call (423) 378-3409 or email frontdesk@uwaykpt.org.

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Time to glam up some storm drains

KINGSPORT — The winners of the city’s annual storm drain art contest have been announced and the painting is already underway.

The contest, now in its fourth year, calls for local artists and creative minds to paint five storm drains in city neighborhoods in order to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our rivers, stream habitat, and aquatic wildlife.

After receiving numerous entries, Kingsport’s Stormwater Department selected five winners: Alexandra Sheffey, Ashley Roberts, Brenda Barkley, Joel Hammitt, and Kaylee Osborne.

Each of these winners has received $100 and enough paint to bring their art to life. The artists started painting this week and should finish within the next month as weather and time allow. According to Amanda McMullen, stormwater quality control technician for Kingsport Public Works, two of the projects are complete, one is underway, and two have yet to begin.

The storm drains are located at four elementary schools — Adams, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Washington — with the fifth on Kenwood Drive in the Greenacres neighborhood.

To follow the progress of the work, check out and like the Kingsport Public Works Facebook page. The public is encouraged to check out the drains, both in progress and when complete, and snap their own photos of their favorite drain.

Sponsors for the contest this year include Barge Design Solutions, LDA Engineering, Mattern & Craig and Now or Never Tattoo Gallery.


As Kingsport grew, the ground became covered with asphalt, concrete and buildings. The result is that an important part of the water cycle was disturbed. Instead of rain naturally filtering into the ground, it flows over roofs, driveways and streets as stormwater.

Stormwater can pick up pollutants and transport them into local waterways via the storm drain system. Pollutants include everyday items like pesticides or fertilizers in our yards, oil in our cars, and even soap. When introduced into the waterway, pollutants have a harmful effect on aquatic life and the health of our rivers.

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Sullivan County Chief Deputy Lee Carswell receives statewide honor

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office Chief Jail Administrator Lee Carswell has been named Jail Administrator of the Year by the Tennessee Corrections Institute, according to an announcement shared by Sheriff Jeff Cassidy on social media.

From Cassidy’s post:

• Carswell began his career at the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office in 1997 as a reserve deputy. He was hired as a full-time deputy in December 2002 and later graduated from the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy.

• Since that time, he has held numerous positions within the agency to include supervisory roles within the Corrections Division, K-9 Unit, Internal Affairs, and School Resource.

• He has completed various leadership development programs and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

• In September 2017, Carswell was assigned to the Corrections Division as the operations captain before being promoted to chief jail administrator in 2018.

• Since then, he has worked tirelessly to improve the environment within the Sullivan County Jail and address a number of issues that had developed over time, particularly overcrowding.

• In an effort to improve conditions, inmate population reduction became one of Carswell’s priorities. He reached out to Sullivan County commissioners to give them a first-hand look at the problem and the needs.

• He encouraged partnerships with several corrections-based programs and worked with county leaders to establish a pre-trial release program.

“As a result of his persistence, the environment within the jail has drastically improved,” Cassidy wrote. “There has been a dramatic decrease in the inmate population as well as many other positive changes within the facility. While Chief Carswell is quick to give all the credit to his team, his leadership and vision have played a key role in the changes. He has a unique ability to motivate and inspire others to perform at their personal best. He stands up for what he feels is right, always with the best interest of this department and the community in mind. I am happy that the TCI recognized his hard work, and I’m grateful to have him as part of this administration. Please join me in congratulating him on this honor.”

Ballad's monoclonal antibody treatment process 'will not change at this time'

By Jonathan Roberts

JOHNSON CITY — Ballad Health said its process for people seeking monoclonal antibody treatment “will not change at this time” after federal and state health officials recommended limiting the usage of the treatment to those who have not been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus or vaccinated immunocompromised people.

“Ballad Health wants our patients to know that the process for getting (monoclonal antibody) treatment will not change at this time — patients will still go through their provider to get referred for monoclonal antibody treatment at Ballad Health’s clinics, and we’ll accommodate as many people as we’re able with the supply we have been provided by the state,” a Thursday statement from Ballad read, noting that the hospital system will “continue to follow state guidelines and advocate for the best interests for all of our patients.”

Studies suggest the monoclonal antibody treatment, which is available under an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, can reduce the chances of someone at high-risk of severe illness from COVID-19 ending up in the hospital or dying.

In its statement, Ballad said there’s no substitute for vaccination or taking precautionary measures, but that monoclonal antibodies are a promising treatment and “one of the best options to keep people out of the hospital.” To date, Ballad has provided more than 2,000 infusions, and recently opened up a dedicated infusion center in Johnson City.

Earlier this month, the National Institutes of Health’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel recommended limiting the usage of monoclonal antibodies to those who have not yet been fully vaccinated and are at high risk for severe illness, as well as those who are vaccinated and immunocompromised “in situations where it is necessary to triage eligible patients.”

With supplies expected to tighten as the federal government begins limiting supply of the treatment, the Tennessee Department of Health recommended providers follow the NIH guidance “if they need to prioritize distribution of the treatment,” which was first reported by The Tennessean.

The recommendation came after the federal government announced it would begin limiting supplies of the treatment due to seven hard-hit Southern states, including Tennessee, receiving 70% of the nation’s shipments of monoclonal antibodies.

Of those states, which include Alabama, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana, only Florida (56%) and Texas (51%) have vaccinated more than half of their populations, according to the New York Times. Tennessee has vaccinated 44.3% of its population. Northeast Tennessee, meanwhile, has seen lower uptake, with 43.2% of the population fully vaccinated. Only Sullivan (44.7%) and Washington (50.72%) counties have a higher vaccination rate than the state.

“Our recommendation to monoclonal antibody providers or individual facilities across the state is if they need to prioritize distribution of the treatment, the NIH guidelines are the recommended approach for that prioritization, including prioritizing those who are most likely to be hospitalized,” read a statement from the Tennessee Department of Health. “Ultimately, this comes down to providers’ clinical judgment to ensure those most at risk are receiving this treatment.”

Dr. Matthew Krolikowski, an associate professor and infectious disease expert with ETSU Health, also said vaccination is the best way to avoid severe illness, and said prioritizing the antibody treatment to those at highest risk, including those who aren’t fully vaccinated, is “purely an effort to mitigate the risk to the most amount of people.”

“They’re not at anywhere near the level of risk that an unvaccinated individual is,” Krolikowski said of vaccinated individuals. “So if withholding a vaccinated individual’s monoclonal antibodies results in a two-day hospitalization but giving the antibodies to an unvaccinated individual prevents a 30-day hospitalization — it’s unfair but unfortunately vaccinated people again shoulder the burden of that problem.”

Krolikowski went on to say unvaccinated people are at a higher risk of dying, and that “realistically, it is not vaccinated versus unvaccinated; it’s human versus virus.”

“If our goal is to survive this, the monoclonal antibody is most likely to benefit the most in unvaccinated or immune-compromised (people) who’ve been vaccinated,” Krolikowski said.

Summer Wells