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Speedway in Lights celebrates milestone 25th season

BRISTOL, Tenn. — The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights powered by TVA, a holiday light spectacular that serves as one of the primary annual fundraisers for the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, is returning for its milestone 25th season.

Speedway in Lights spreads across a 4-mile route illuminated by more than 2 million lights among 250 displays. A trip through the light show sends guests down historic Bristol Dragway and all throughout the speedway property, culminating with a lap around the iconic Bristol Motor Speedway half-mile oval.

“It’s amazing to think that we have been hosting The Pinnacle Speedway In Lights for 25 wonderful years,” said Claudia Byrd, executive director of the Bristol chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, which raises money for child-focused agencies throughout the Appalachian Highlands region. “What began all those years ago as a simple signature fundraising event has evolved into a mega holiday tradition for thousands of visitors each year.

“The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights continues to provide a much-needed opportunity for family, friends and loved ones to get together and enjoy a night out while creating wonderful memories,” Byrd continued. “The best thing about this event is that while our guests are enjoying a tour of this amazing holiday light show, they are simultaneously providing significant help for so many wonderful children throughout our 18-county service area.”

The Pinnacle Speedway In Lights route offers many popular displays, including two new displays for this year. The new displays are presented by East Tennessee State University and Hardee’s Restaurants. Guests will also get to enjoy many of their all-time favorites, including Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Sea of Illumination, the festive Ballad Health Hospital display, Mycroft Signs Race to Space, The Dueling Dragsters, Symphony in Lights, NASCAR Pit Stop, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Dinosaur Village and Ripley’s Penguin Playhouse.

Also new this year, guests can download the free Bristol Motor Speedway App and use a special QR Code to participate in the Holiday in Lights presented by GEICO scavenger hunt. Throughout the Pinnacle Speedway In Lights route guests will search for the famed GEICO Gecko, which will be hidden in three locations.

Those who find all three Geckos along the route will be entered into a drawing to win $250 at the conclusion of the Pinnacle Speedway In Lights.

At the end of the route, guests can visit the Appalachian country-themed Christmas Village, located in the infield of the legendary oval, to take advantage of photo opportunities in front of several special holiday displays, roast marshmallows over an open fire, shop with many local vendors and check out some great arts and crafts. There will also be family-friendly midway rides (including a merry-go-round, pirate ship, bumper cars and more), hot chocolate and — returning this year — the kids will once again get to visit with Santa Claus in the Barter Theatre Santa Hut.

After touring the Pinnacle Speedway in Lights route, guests are encouraged to visit the Tri-Cities Airport Ice Rink at Bristol Motor Speedway presented by Stateline Services. The Ice Rink will be open until Sunday, Jan. 9. The Ice Rink will be closed Mondays from Nov. 15-Dec. 13. Hours of operation vary from day to day, so review the schedule on the BMS website in advance.

The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights runs through Jan. 1. The event costs $20 for cars from Sunday through Thursday and $25 on Friday and Saturday nights. For larger groups, vans are $50 and buses are $125. Visitors can take advantage of The Fast Lane presented by Citi, a speedy $50 option that provides a shorter wait time on select nights when traffic lines get long.

Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities

The Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to raising funds for distribution to children-based nonprofit organizations, was established in 1997. Since its inception, the chapter has raised nearly $18 million, awarding grants to hundreds of qualified organizations in the 18-county area surrounding Bristol Motor Speedway. The board of trustees for the Bristol Chapter consists of 18 members, a diverse group of individuals from across the region with wide-ranging backgrounds. The trustees, two staff members and more than 300 volunteers are responsible for hosting numerous events at Bristol Motor Speedway and throughout the Bristol (Tennessee/Virginia) community. For more information about the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, visit speedwaycharities.org/bristol.

Veterans Day events to be held throughout Tri-Cities

KINGSPORT — In honor of our local veterans, a number of Veterans Day events are taking place across the Tri-Cities region on Thursday.

Veterans Day is an annual holiday honoring military veterans with ceremonies typically held at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — the official ending of World War I. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed the holiday in 1919, then called Armistice Day, to honor the veterans of that war. President Dwight Eisenhower expanded the holiday to include all veterans.

No matter where you live in the Tri-Cities, it will be only a short drive to a Veterans Day event. Here’s a list of some of the ceremonies taking place across our region.

• ABINGDON: The event will be held at Veterans Memorial Park at 11 a.m. on Thursday. The keynote speaker will be Col. John Bradley III USAF (Ret.). Bradley served in the Vietnam War, received the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1969, then worked his way up to wing commander before retiring after 29 years of service.

The ceremony will also include a procession from the Appalachian Highlanders Pipes & Drums and tree dedications in honor of six local veterans.

• ETSU: East Tennessee State University will honor veterans with a special ceremony at 11 a.m. on Wednesday in the Quad — a grassy area located between Brooks Gym and Gilbreath Hall. The keynote speaker will be U.S. Navy Captain Harry “Chuck” Hayes, a decorated veteran with more than three decades of service.

• GATE CITY: Gate City will host a Veterans Day celebration on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Grogan Park (150 Park Ave.). The event will include a patriotic ceremony followed by a hot dog lunch. The event is sponsored by Gate City Frontier and the town of Gate City.

• JOHNSON CITY: Kings Mountain Post 24 of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution will host a remembrance ceremony on Thursday. The 30-minute event will begin at 9 a.m. at the Doughboy statue in Memorial Park, which is at the intersection of East Main Street and 510 Bert St., across from the Municipal and Safety Building.

The ceremony will include presentations on the history of Arlington National Cemetery and the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

There will also be a ceremony at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the Johnson City/Washington County Veterans Memorial (703 W. Main St.).

• KINGSPORT: The Tri-Cities Military Affairs Council is holding a Veterans Day event at the Kingsport Veterans Memorial at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

The guest speaker will be Bill Kilgore, the past national commander of AMVETS and a 39-year veteran of the U.S. Army, the Army National Guard and the Army Individual Ready Reserve.

• ROGERSVILLE: A ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Hawkins County courthouse.

The guest speaker will be Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Broyles, U.S. Army (Ret.), a 30-year veteran who served during Operations Just Cause, Desert Storm and Shield, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

29 new COVID-19 deaths reported in Northeast Tennessee over 11-day period

Twenty-nine COVID-19 deaths were reported in eight Northeast Tennessee counties in the 11-day period ending Monday (Oct. 29-Nov. 8), according to numbers published online Tuesday by the Tennessee Department of Health.

New cases of the virus increased in all eight counties over the 11-day period, but at a slower rate than a few weeks ago. The number of active cases continued to decline in six of the eight counties. Active cases increased in Johnson and Washing- ton counties, however, leading to a net increase compared to the 11 days prior (Oct. 18-28).

Active cases in the eight-county region totaled 1,342 on Nov. 8, up from 1,319 on Oct. 28.

On Sept. 19, active cases totaled 5,556 for the eight-county region.

Seven of the deaths reported from Oct. 29- Nov. 8 were in Hawkins. Other deaths reported during that period, by county: six in Carter, six in Sullivan, four in Greene, four in Wash- ington, zero in Hancock, two in Johnson, and zero in Unicoi.

New cases reported across the region totaled 1,267. New cases by county, for the 11-day period: 385 in Sullivan; 278 in Washington; 207 in Greene; 143 in Johnson; 130 in Hawkins; 79 in Carter; 30 in Unicoi; and 15 in Hancock.

Sullivan County's federal relief pie is $30 million; requests already exceed $38 million

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County is expected to receive $30 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. As of Tuesday, requests for use of that money totaled more than $38 million.

The list is not complete. The county can’t submit any proposals for using its ARPA funds to the state for approval until early January. The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s Office has offered county governments use of a consultant to make sure the money is spent in a way that meets federal guidelines.

Most of the money must be used in a way connected to COVID-19, and the county has been heavily encouraged to identify infrastructure and public health projects as it prioritizes requests and decides what to submit for state approval.

The Sullivan County Financial Management Committee reviewed the request list Tuesday morning and voted to recommend the county begin the purchasing process for two items: $1.25 million for new ambulances for Sullivan County EMS; and more than $5 million for new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems for various county buildings.

Finance Director Larry Bailey said both fall within what local officials currently understand about what will be within the federal guidelines for using ARPA funds. Bailey and several members of the committee also pointed out both are established needs. And the process of putting the vehicle purchases and HVAC projects out to bid includes multiple steps and time.

Purchasing Agent Kris Davis said the county needs to be ready to move forward with projects and purchases as soon as the state begins reviewing proposals because all the federal money flowing into local government coffers across Tennessee and the nation will mean high demand for the materials, equipment, contractors and, when needed, architects.

Davis also pointed out many items are on back order or taking longer than normal to arrive after orders are placed, and actual costs are rising significantly.

An awning for Sullivan East Middle School, for example, was estimated at $30,000 and the bid came back at $56,000, Davis said.

The Financial Management Committee’s recommendation to move ahead on preparations to order the ambulances and contract out the HVAC work went to the Sullivan County Commission’s Executive and Administrative Committees in a joint meeting Tuesday night.

No vote was taken.

The two committees also received the full $38 million list of requests for ARPA funding. Bailey told the group he expects the county will continue to receive requests for the next two to three weeks. He was asked to send commissioners an updated list weekly until his office provides a final list.

The list distributed on Tuesday included more than three dozen line items from various nonprofits, fire and rescue departments, county departments, utility districts and the city of Bristol.

Bailey said many of the requests came in to county offices in recent months. Some resulted from a memo sent to all county department heads that later went to county commissioners.

Nearly $12 million of the $38 million is the total of two requests submitted by the city of Bristol: $4.375 million for sewer infrastructure and $7.51 million for water infrastructure.

At the Financial Committee’s meeting Tuesday morning, a commissioner wanted to know “what about Kingsport?” Bailey said no request had been received from Kingsport. The commissioner asked if Kingsport had been “invited” to submit a request.

“We didn’t invite Bristol to” Bailey said.

At the joint meeting in the evening, County Commissioner Colette George asked if a request she understood the city has or will submit will be added, and Bailey said it would.

Sweet Italian sausage sizzles in the same pan as sliced apple and red cabbage in this easy skillet recipe. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)