Groundbreaking Ceremony to be Held for Blount County

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In honor of those who have died in active military service, the United Veterans of Blount County will host the 52nd annual Blount County Memorial Day program on Saturday, May 28 with a reception at 10 a.m. and ceremony at 11 a.m. During this event outside the Blount County Courthouse, a groundbreaking will take place for the new Blount County War Dead Memorial Plaza.

The memorial has a rich history. Over 50 years ago on Memorial Day Weekend, the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 76 dedicated the new War Dead Memorial to the fallen heroes of Blount County and their families. The original memorial, which holds a bronze statue of a soldier, was cast in Italy and dedicated in 1965. Over time the memorial began to deteriorate, resulting in a hazard in need of restoration. Members of the community joined local veterans to form a committee to address the rebuilding of the memorial; many of the veterans were descendants of the original committee in 1965.

The committee enlisted the expertise of Red Chair Architects, a full-service architecture and design firm based in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Hickory Construction, Inc. a licensed general contractor, to lead the project. This is not the first memorial Hickory has been selected to build. The company built the Ft. Craig Memorial and Bicentennial Park Memorial, both located on the Maryville-Alcoa Greenway.

Hickory has also volunteered to make an in-kind donation to the Blount County War Dead Memorial Plaza, aiding in reaching the $200,000 goal to fund the project.

“We are honored to be selected to build this historic memorial that will be a lasting tribute to the heroes that so valiantly served our country. The groundbreaking is a momentous occasion and celebration as these lives are remembered and a new Blount County landmark arises,” said Hickory Construction President Burke Pinnell.

The vision for the memorial is more than a monument; it will be a plaza incorporating all four monuments on the courthouse lawn and a bench to sit and reflect. The bench will also hold a time capsule with mementos of both the current build and 1965 build.

The Veterans Walk of Honor, a permanent commemorative walkway lined with bricks engraved with the names of honored men and women who have served our country, will also be incorporated into the memorial. Anyone who has served honorably in the Armed Forces, or is currently on active duty, is eligible.

The groundbreaking for the Blount County War Dead Memorial Plaza is just one element of this year’s Memorial Day program. The program honoring deceased veterans will also include the lowering of colors to half-staff, pledge of allegiance, scripture reading, placement of flowers, firing squad salute and raising of the colors to full-staff.

This year’s keynote speaker is Clayton Narveson of the United States Marine Corps. Narveson was a 21-year-old Marine gunner when the American flag was raised on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi during World War II. A resident of Blount County, Narveson will address attendees at the event.

Members of the community are encouraged to attend the program and groundbreaking to honor our community’s fallen heroes. Bricks may be purchased for installation in the Veterans Walk of Honor to honor the memory of loved ones. Profits from this fundraiser will go directly to the War Dead Memorial rebuilding.

More information on the Blount County War Dead Memorial and the Veterans Walk of Honor, including the purchase of commemorative bricks, can be found at www.blountwarmemorial.com.


Hickory Construction Selected to Build Blount County War Dead Memorial Plaza

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Hickory Construction, Inc., a Blount County-based licensed general contractor offering services for residential, commercial and industrial projects for the past 35 years, announced that it has been selected as the general contractor to build the new Blount County War Dead Memorial Plaza dedicated to the fallen military heroes of Blount County.

The new memorial, to be located on the Blount County Courthouse lawn, will feature a plaza incorporating four monuments on the lawn, a Veterans Walk of Honor and a bench to sit and reflect. The bench will hold a time capsule with mementos of this build and the original 1965 build.

The original memorial was dedicated in 1965 and funded by the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 76. The solider on top of the memorial is a bronze statue that was cast in Italy. Over the decades, the original monument began to deteriorate and presented safety concerns, necessitating the building of a new memorial.

Red Chair Architects’ Erik Hall, of Knoxville, Tennessee, was chosen as the architect for the project, with Hickory Construction as the contractor.

“We are fortunate to have Hickory Construction as our contractor for this project,” said Marion Westerling, a U.S. Army veteran and fundraising chair of the memorial committee, which also includes Nathan Weinbaum, Jim Warner and Peggy Jackson. “We feel sure that Hickory will successfully honor the vision that architect Erik Hall developed to build a long-lasting tribute to Blount County’s fallen heroes.”

“Being part of the local community for nearly 40 years, it means a great deal to us to build this memorial honoring veterans from our own county who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation,” said Hickory President Burke Pinnell.  “This project will always hold a special place in all of our team’s hearts.”

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Blount County War Dead Memorial Plaza will take place during the 52nd Annual Blount County Memorial Day program on May 28, 2016 on the Blount County Courthouse steps at 345 Court Street, Maryville, Tenn., with a reception at 10 a.m. and program to begin at 11 a.m.  The dedication of the newly completed memorial will take place on Veterans Day of this year. Commemorative bricks may be purchased in honor or in memory of a veteran. Profits from this fundraiser will aid in funding the project.

Emory Valley Breaks Ground for New Building

Emory Valley Center held a ground breaking ceremony April 15, 2016 which included people EVC supports, EVC staff and board members, Capital Campaign co-chairs Dottie Thompson and Dr. Gene Caldwell, state Sens. Randy McNally and Ken Yager, state Rep. John Ragan and representatives of Michael Brady Inc. and Hickory Construction Inc.

EVC launched the campaign for a new building six years ago when plans were discussed for the probable demolition of the building the organization utilizes for some of its services to people with disabilities. Through the efforts of Thompson and Caldwell, as well as several business and individual donors and grant awards for the project, the capital campaign is at a point where construction can begin, a recent release stated.

“We are very excited to break ground on our new building and for construction to begin,” EVC President Jennifer Enderson said. “So many individual supporters, businesses, families, staff and other community partners have worked very hard to make our new building a reality and we are very grateful for their efforts and continuing support.”

Although construction on the new building has begun, Emory Valley Center is continuing to accept donations for its Capital Campaign in an effort to fully fund the project. If you would like to donate to Emory Valley Center’s Capital Campaign, please contact Development Director Janet Wood by email at janet.wood@emoryvalleycenter.com or call (865) 813-0576.

Emory Valley Center has been meeting the needs of people living with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities in the East Tennessee community for more than 60 years and currently provides a wide variety of services including: Community Based Day Enrichment, Supported Living, Residential Habilitation, Family Model Residential, Semi-Independent Living, Vocational Training, Supported Employment, Personal Assistance, Transportation, Nursing, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Adult Day Services, Family Support, In-Home Day, Early Intervention Program, Inclusive Early Learning Center (preschool), and Representative and Payee services.

This support reaches 850 adults and children on a monthly basis located in 16 East Tennessee counties.

Hickory Construction sees growing trend in assisted living

By Ed Marcum of the Knoxville News Sentinel, to view Knoxville News Sentinel article, click here.

Alcoa-based Hickory Construction Inc. is nearing its 40th year in business and well into a $5 million expansion of the Brookdale Sandy Springs Senior Living Facility. in Maryville.

“We should be out of there by December,” John McMillan, vice president of marketing for the construction firm said Wednesday.

“We actually have two jobs going there,” he said. “One is a new building, the other is a renovation.”

Kyle David, project manager for PDC Midwest Inc., construction manager on the project, did not want to speculate on when Brookdale Sandy Springs would be able to start moving people into the additions. Two months of rain has delayed the project, he said.

The project, which Hickory Construction began in September, will add a 14,848 square-foot addition with 14 bedrooms, an updated dining room, and nurse call stations to the 511 Pearson Springs Road facility. The 24,772 square-foot memory center will have 32 units, a courtyard, dining room and administrative office space, and will be used for the center’s Clare Bridge program for Alzheimer’s and dementia-related care.

Hickory Construction hopes the project will mark a trend. The company has done residential, commercial, industrial and medical facility projects, mostly offices and clinics for doctors and dentists. As the population ages, assisted-living construction will be a growing opportunity for Hickory Construction, McMillan said.

“There is a big demand right now,” he said. “There are probably two or three at least in Blount County alone.”

Aside from doing more such projects, a main goal for the company in the coming years is to expand its geographic footprint, McMillan said.

Most of the company’s projects are within an hour’s drive of its headquarters at 124 Kent Place. The company wants to do more work in the Tri-Cities area, Crossville, Chattanooga and elsewhere in East Tennessee, McMillan said.

The company was founded in August 1977 by Chuck Alexander and Rick Foden. It now employs about 65 people.

Safety: The Responsibility of All

Ways Employers and Employees Should Ensure Safety on Residential and Commercial Job Sites

By Burke Pinnell – President, Hickory Construction, Inc.

From an outsider’s perspective, the construction industry has the reputation of being a fairly dangerous trade.

There is some validity to this claim if working for a company or on a job site where employee safety is not a top priority.  Although construction can pose a range of safety risks, careful compliance to safety standards increases the likelihood of an accident-free, successful build.

The Shocking Statistics

One out of five work-related deaths in the United States in 2014 occurred in the construction industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The causes of more than half of construction deaths are considered the “fatal four”: falls (39.9%), electrocutions (8.5%), workers struck by an object (8.4%) and being caught-in/between (1.4%).




OSHA projects that “eliminating the ‘fatal four’ would save 508 workers’ lives in America every year.” Through tens of thousands of yearly site visits, OSHA lists the following items as its top ten most cited standards:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Hazard communication standard
  3. Scaffolding
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Control of hazardous energy
  6. Powered industrial trucks
  7. Ladders
  8. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment
  9. Machinery and machine guarding
  10. Electrical systems design

Regulatory safety compliance is important. Failure to comply may result in fines, penalties and even loss of the ability to operate, in some extreme cases.

Although OSHA attempts to put systems and regulations in place to ensure the safety of workers on site, the agency cannot be on every site, every day of the week. Safety is the responsibility of every individual, and an understanding of its importance speaks to the culture of each specific workplace environment. It is important to have safety standards in place for those on site to stay aware of their surroundings and remain focused on the fact that anything can happen at any time.

Overall Strategies and Tips for Improving Safety

Safety standards do not have to be overly complicated, but they do have to be robust.

Employees must understand that every specific action or decision can result in injury or even death. One simple suggested policy is to have a “safety cabinet” on every job site which contains first aid supplies, material safety data sheets (MSDS) and emergency contact information for ready access.

As an employer, one of the most important safety roles is setting policies and procedures to help ensure that employees are trained on the equipment and understand the importance of safety on the job site.

Employers can work toward the goal of achieving high safety standards by requiring that all employees undergo drug-free workplace training, weekly “tool box talks” on safety-related activities, CPR training and renewal, OSHA training for field supervisors and thorough equipment training.

It is extremely important to have employees that are properly trained and prepared for the positions that they are tasked.

Listed below are examples of established policies among companies around the United States that promote a universal understanding that safety is everyone’s responsibility:


Although specific regulations on the residential side of the construction industry may vary from the commercial side, it is helpful to look to the more rigid regulations for commercial construction when setting overall standards for the company’s safety performance in residential construction. Some of these regulations may include:


Tracking Safety Standards

Benchmarking safety standards is vital to tracking how the company is comparing to national averages. Although even one injury on the job site is too many, learning from those incidents can reinforce for the employer and the full team the importance of standards for everyone on site.

One of the standards of safety reporting is the OSHA 300 log, which lists every accident which results in an employee’s lost work time beyond the day of the injury. A construction firm can use the data from its worker’s compensation insurance claims to monitor and record every injury which results in medical expense beyond first aid, as well as the costs.

From this data, a third party establishes an experience modifier specifically for each company as it relates to the average of all general contractors’ experience. This rating is also affected by the size of the company and its injury experience over the prior three-year period, not including the most recent year. The goal is to achieve the best possible rating, ensuring that one’s site safety is better than average.

A suggestion to keep employees focused on safety standards is to set a goal for hours worked without a “lost-time” accident. Once achieved, a reward can be given to all employees at the next company meeting.

Final Thoughts

Everyone in the construction industry must view safety as a priority.

Although it takes more time preparing on the front end of a project, the repercussions of not doing so can be fatal. Aligning your internal safety standards with OSHA regulations must be considered a priority among decision makers in the construction industry. The reputation of the company depends not only on the quality of work performed, but also the overall safety of individuals on the job site.

Overlooking these standards may not only increase the company’s liability exposure, but may also cause potential customers to consider their project with a firm that shows more attention to detail, not just through workmanship or materials, but also through rigorous safety standards.


Burke Pinnell is co-owner and president of Alcoa, Tennessee-based Hickory Construction, Inc. – a widely respected general contractor managing residential, commercial and industrial projects since 1977. 

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