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Florida Based Company Agrees To Buy Bachman-Bernard Dealership

Longtime Greeneville car dealers Myron Bernard and Phil Bachman have reached an agreement to sell the Bachman-Bernard Chevrolet-Buick-GMC-Cadillac dealership to Plantation, Florida-based LMP Automotive Holdings, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The agreement filed Aug. 28 lists the purchase price for the business at $7.9 million, with an undetermined amount to be paid for its automotive inventory, parts inventory and other items. A closing date had not been set at that time.

The Bachman-Bernard agreement coincided with LMP Automotive Holdings announcing it had reached agreements to acquire nine dealerships across the southeast region.

“We are excited to expand our fulfillment footprint in this Eastern United States region which is in line with our hybrid e-commerce and dealership clustering strategy,” LMP Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sam Tawfik said in a statement accompanying the SEC filings. “We are looking forward to enabling our subscription and e-commerce technology over these dealer platforms in order to further expand our online fulfillment presence and add to their historical success.”

LMP, which began trading publicly in December 2019, sells cars at its dealerships, but also offers a subscription-based model as an alternative to buying or leasing a vehicle. Available on pre-owned vehicles, this model is meant to offer flexibility, according to the company.

Subscribers can pay on a monthly, weekly or to-own basis and have the option to upgrade for a different vehicle or downgrade to lower their payment, the company says on its website, www.lmpmotors.com.

Tawfik also stated that LMP plans to continue expanding and hopes to acquire 30 to 40 more dealerships in 2021.

Negotiations are still underway on some aspects of the sale, but in the filings LMP said it will pay $5.4 million for the property and $2.5 million for company and personal goodwill, an intangible asset that typically includes things such as the value of a company’s brand and its owners’ reputations, customer base and employee relations.

LMP must still be approved by the manufacturers represented by Bachman-Bernard and other dealerships it plans to buy. A closing date will be determined after that happens, according to the SEC filings.

Bachman-Bernard sold its Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram-Nissan dealership to Michigan-based Victory Automotive Group in 2016.

At that time Bernard, then 63, said his and then-78-year-old Bachman’s ages were factors in the decision to sell that dealership.

Prior to that sale, Bachman sold Honda of Morristown and Phil Bachman Honda in Kingsport to Hudson Automotive Group in the fall of 2013 and later also sold Phil Bachman Toyota in Johnson City.

Bachman began his automotive career in Greeneville in 1967, when he acquired the local Pontiac-Cadillac dealership. Bachman and Bernard have been in partnership since 1983.

The Greeneville Sun left messages Wednesday requesting comment from Tawfik and Bernard. The SEC filings say the purchase agreements contain confidentiality clauses barring both parties from speaking publicly about the pending sale.


Local_news
Officials Discuss Natural Disaster Grant Process

Help is available through the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to address the effects of a natural disaster.

The Greeneville/Greene County Office of Emergency Management hosted the Greene County Hazard Mitigation Committee in a virtual meeting Tuesday to explain to government agencies and local businesses how to get the grant process started.

Giving the presentation was Michelle R. Klein, TEMA East regional planner.

Hazard mitigation is any action taken to permanently eliminate or significantly reduce the long-term risk to human life and property from hazards and their effects.

Klein offered an overview of the types of natural disasters that have struck Greene County in recent decades, including events that produced damaging flooding, high winds, wildfires, droughts and heavy snowfall.

Extensive flooding struck Greene County following torrential rainfall in early 2019. Many Greene Countians remember the blizzard of 1993. A severe drought in 2016 impacted all of East Tennessee, and contributed to destructive wildfires that damaged buildings in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and near other sections of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Klein displayed overhead projections that included information about specific events, locations and dates, along with summaries. In Greene County, for instance, there were 326 “wind events with damage,” according to information obtained by TEMA from the National Weather Service.

“The purpose of this meeting is to review past hazards and disasters. This review will lead to discussions surrounding beneficial projects Greene County can put into place to help reduce the long-term impacts from disastrous events,” county Emergency Management Director Heather Sipe said.

The meeting was held online because of COVID-19. There were about 15 participants, including TEMA and the county emergency management office.

Other participants included Greene County-Greeneville EMS, Greene County 911, the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad, Greeneville Police Department, Greene County Highway Department, Greeneville Public Works Department, Greeneville City Schools, Greeneville Light & Power System, Greene County Planning Department and Mosheim Mayor Tommy Gregg.

Each entity applying for aid is eligible for “two projects per hazard per jurisdiction,” Klein said. She advised any municipality or agency applying for aid to prioritize projects.

She explained there are various available grant programs that applicants may qualify for: the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which is activated by a presidential disaster declaration for a natural disaster and includes federal funding; the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities grant, which applies to natural disasters and includes federal funds through congressional appropriations; Flood Mitigation Insurance, which applies to flooding and also includes federal funds through congressional appropriations.

The flooding grants are competitive on a nationwide basis.

National hazard mitigation saves taxpayer money, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency graphic displayed by Klein.

Eligibility requirements include that a project applied for be “environmentally sound,” provide a beneficial impact on the disaster area and demonstrate cost-effectiveness, represent a “permanent solution” to a problem, meet all applicable state and local permit requirements and have a current and approved Local Hazard Mitigation Plan. Flooding-related grant applications must impact a community participating in the National Flood Insurance Program.

“We do experience flooding events at least three or four times a year in this state,” Klein said.

Because of its rural geography, Greene County has “extreme high risk” potential for wildfires,” Klein said.

Klein is available to speak individually with applicants representing government or other agencies, and provide help filling out applications. She will be assisted by Sipe with Greene County applicants.

The emergency management process as it related to grants includes four components: mitigation, recovery, preparedness and response.

“We’re always functioning in the preparedness realm to prepare for a natural disaster,” Klein said. “It’s important to know there is a significant amount of money available to (successful applicants).”

Grants filed by some government agencies relating to the 2019 flooding in Greene County are still pending, Sipe said.

“We do have some areas in the county that every time we have a flooding issue, it’s the same spot,” Sipe said.

Participants in Tuesday’s meeting were given one week to complete paperwork and prioritize grant-related project requests


Covid19
Two New COVID-19 Deaths Reported Locally

Two more deaths in Greene County from the coronavirus were reported by the state on Wednesday, while the number of new cases continued to trend downward as six were recorded.

To continue that downward trend, Ballad Health officials continue to encourage the practices of mask wearing, social distancing and good hand hygiene to limit the spread of not just COVID-19, but also the seasonal flu.

All three need to be practiced to limit the spread of the coronavirus, but can also keep the flu at lower levels during the upcoming season, Jamie Swift, chief infection prevention officer for Ballad Heath, said during a media briefing on Wednesday.

“It is not one of three, but all three that need to be done to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” she said.

And, she added, “If we continue these things, it can impact flu spread, but only if we continue to do these things.”

If it is an active flu season with a large number of cases along with COVID-19 cases, it could overwhelm resources for the health system, according to Ballad Health officials.

“Flu shots are safe and effective,” she said. “Now is really the time to get them.”

Dr. Clay Runnels, chief physician executive for Ballad Health, also encouraged the public to be vigilant in wearing a mask, social distancing and practicing good hygiene.

“It is going to be critical in determining where we go in the next couple of months in terms of new cases and hospitalizations,” he said.

Greene County now has 39 deaths from the virus, the Tennessee Department of Health reported in its daily COVID-19 update on Wednesday. With the six new cases, the county has had 1,118 cases of the virus since the pandemic began.

Locally, there are 94 active cases, down 11 from Tuesday, according to the state report. Fifteen people have been added to the inactive/recovered case list for the county, which now totals 985.

OPTIMISM ABOUT TRENDS

The number of cases overall have been declining in the region of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia served by Ballad Health.

“We continue to feel optimistic about our trends, specifically in this region,” Swift said. “However, when we talk about optimism, it does not equal complacency. We need to keep our focus on the pandemic. We are starting to see other areas of the country where numbers are going back up. There is a lot is coming in the future. We need to stay focused and keep our eyes on numbers and transmission of COVID.”

The positivity rate, the percentage of people with positive results among all those tested in the past seven days, is 6.8% for the 21 counties in the Ballad Health service region. For Greene County, the positivity rate for the past seven days is 10.3%.

Greene County had the fourth lowest number of new cases on Wednesday among the 10 counties served by Ballad Health in Northeast Tennessee. The number of new cases ranged from one each in Cocke, Hancock and Unicoi counties to 46 recorded in Washington County, according to the state report.

Greene has the fourth highest number of active cases behind Washington with 250, Sullivan with 140 and Hamblen with 114.

On Wednesday, there were 75 people hospitalized within Ballad Health facilities with COVID-19 with three awaiting test results to determine if they have the virus, according to the health system. Of those hospitalized, eight are in intensive care units with six on ventilators.

No new hospitalizations were reported for Greene County on Wednesday by the state.

The hospital system’s medical care unit capacity is at 95.9% with ICU capacity at 87.9%, Swift said.

According to the Veterans Administration, there are 39 active cases at the James H. Quillen Veterans Administration Healthcare System at Mountain Home, with 31 of those veterans and eight employees as of early Wednesday afternoon. There have been 438 total cases reported at the VA Center during the pandemic, with 374 listed as convalescent cases and with 25 known deaths.

Statewide, there were 1,561 new cases reported on Wednesday, bringing the number of cases to 186,709 since the pandemic began. The two local deaths were among 14 reported in Tennessee in Wednesday’s Department of Health update. In Tennessee, 2,275 people have died from the virus.

DISTANCING GUIDELINES

Swift also addressed some updates made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its guidelines regarding the aerial spread of the coronavirus. The updates were not changes to previous recommendations, she said, but rather a further explanation of the spread.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through the transmission of droplets when a person coughs, talks, sneezes, sings or shouts, Swift continued, and the 6-foot recommendation for social distancing comes from the fact that a majority of droplets will drop by 6 feet.

“Six feet is not a magical number, but the CDC was trying to clarify some of that this week. The further you can spread out and distance yourself, the better,” she said.

“There might be instances — those high risk places that involve singing, shouting or screaming, those instances where we know the droplets may project a little bit farther — those are places where, even if you are outside, masks really need to continue to be worn,” Swift continued.

CALL FOR DONATIONS

Runnels also renewed a call for donations of plasma from people who have recovered from the virus. Ballad Health is using convalescent plasma in the treatment of the virus and is participating in a national study to determine its effectiveness.

Those who have recovered are asked to call Marsh Regional Blood Center to see if they are eligible to give at 423-408-7500.

There is also a need for blood donations, Runnels said.

“Anytime anyone steps forward to make a blood donation, they make an invaluable gift to someone,” he said.

He noted that the ability to collect donations will be enhanced by a donation announced Wednesday of funds to purchase a new bloodmobile for Marsh from Eastman Credit Union.

About five years ago, the credit union gave a gift to purchase a bloodmobile, in which 1,500 donations have been made thus far, he said.