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Local Business Donates Ambulance To Ukraine Aid Effort

A used ambulance restored to service by a Greeneville business will be on its way Wednesday to the front lines in war-torn Ukraine.

The ambulance was donated by R Enterprises LLC, an ambulance re-mounter and re-manufacturer on Harold Cemetery Road owned by Jay and Andrea Roths.

Jay Roths credited all his employees for the work that went into making the ambulance ready for shipment to Ukraine, where it is urgently needed.

Between 500 and 600 ambulances have been destroyed since the Russian invasion of the country in February, Roths said.

The Ford F-450 ambulance was a trade-in from a hospital in LaMesa, Texas, an R Enterprises customer.

“We had the motor rebuilt. It is a four-wheel drive vehicle and we are told it will go straight to the front because of its special capabilities,” Roths said.

The ambulance will be picked up Wednesday for transport to Baltimore for a July 3 sailing date that would get it to Ukraine about July 17. Roths said there remains a possibility the vehicle can be shipped by air next week.

Since the the conflict in Ukraine began, the Roths family wanted to do something to help. Roths said every workday morning at R Enterprises, there is a short meeting that closes with a prayer. One day, “We prayed what can we do to be helpful,” Roths said.

About two weeks later a man named John Rowell who had made a humanitarian trip to Ukraine appeared at the business.

“He came over and visited,” Roths said.

Rowell saw the need in Ukraine “and he came back in his heart to do something with ambulances,” Roths said.

A plan was put together to donate an ambulance for use in Ukraine.

“We asked and we got an answer,” Roths said in reference to the earlier prayer.

Rowell put Roths and company General Manager Mark Brannan in touch with a native of Ukraine who lives in Asheville, North Carolina. Ella Pavlyuk serves as an interpreter who communicates with Ukranian officials and helped sort out details relating to the donation.

The process included the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. R Enterprises is collaborating in the effort with the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America and Christopher Manson of OSF Health Care, an integrated health care network in Illinois and Michigan. An affiliation in the project was developed with OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois. Manson made the shipping arrangements, Roths said.

Other businesses and individuals also assisted with the project.

The ambulance engine was rebuilt and bullet-proofed by Don’s Tractor Repair in Surgoinsville.

Graphic and paint work was done by Pecan Ridge Paint & Body in Mosheim. Roths also thanked Artistic Printers in Greeneville.

Pavlyuk was at R Enterprises on Tuesday, excited to see the ambulance ready for shipment.

Many of her family members remain in Ukraine, including her father and his wife, a 5-year-old “baby brother” and many cousins living close to the war zone.

Pavlyuk’s father lives in the western section of Ukraine, away from the fighting, but she said the Russian military recently launched missiles to destroy an oil refinery near his house.

“It’s been quite a ride overall. We have taken it one day at a time. If they’re alive, it’s a good day,” she said. “They are there helping Ukraine however they can.”

The ambulance will be filled with medical supplies Wednesday before it begins the journey to Ukraine, Roths said.

Roths, a South Dakota native who moved to Greene County with his wife and children in 2005, comes from a family background that includes an ambulance restoration business. He used his expertise to open a similar venture about five years ago in Greene County. The business now has 16 employees, including son Spencer and other family members.

The company acquires and refurbishes ambulances from all over the U.S., and its client list is also national in scope, Brannan said.

Roths said the ambulance conversion, module and systems were made ready for service by the R Enterprises team.

Company employees share his enthusiasm for the project.

“Anything we find to be non-functional, we made it fit for service. Everyone here has a hand in this ambulance,” he said.

Pavlyuk is grateful for everyone’s involvement.

“It’s a great help,” she said. “Any vehicle will be helpful. Mark and Jay, what they are doing is actually saving lives right now.”

The R Enterprises team that made the project a reality includes Jay and Andrea Roths, their son Spencer Roths, Mark Brannan, Heidi Chandler, Malachi Owens, Joey Smith, Tyler Smith, Alfie Smith, Stephen Harris, Shadrack Harris, Phillip Barnes, Caleb Jones, Guy Evans, Anthony Painter, Ken Jackson, Cameron Conner, Eric Cobble and Lee Mathes.

There are several different ways the public can help with similar aid efforts, Roths said.

Members of the public can call 1-833-REMOUNT or visit the company website at www.REnterprisesllc.com and go to the Ukraine page for additional details on how to help. The website includes a link with information on how to donate medical supplies and contacts for nonprofit organization for those who want to donate funds for more ambulances.

For an organization that may want to donate an ambulance, Roths said he has contacts that will ensure it gets to Ukraine.

Future efforts may be forthcoming, Roths said.

The ambulance is a very meaningful start.

“On the one hand, it’s only one, but one can make a difference,” he said.


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American Downtown T-Shirts Available

T-shirts for Greeneville’s American Downtown celebration are now available, the city said in a news release.

The shirts, commemorating the town’s 10th annual celebration on July 4, come in a variety of adult sizes, colors and designs.

The new design this year features a shape of Greene County filled with an American flag and surrounded by fireworks with the messages “American Downtown July 4th Celebration” and “Greeneville, Tennessee.” It is printed in navy blue on red tie dye, solid red, or multi-colored tie dye.

The red shirts can be purchased for $15 and both tie dye shirts for $20, all in sizes small through 3X.

A limited supply of the older event shirts featuring a bald eagle design are still available at discounted prices of $10 for solid colors and $15 for tie dye.

The shirts can be purchased now at EastView Recreation Center or during the event in the Big Spring area behind the Greeneville-Greene County Library.

All proceeds from the shirt sales go back to the annual American Downtown celebration.

The celebration kicks off at 4 p.m. in the Big Spring with live music, food trucks, and kids activities, the Top Dog Hot Dog Eating Contest at 7 p.m., and a nighttime Main Street parade launching at 9:15 p.m., followed by a spectacular fireworks show at Greeneville High School.

Admission is free, thanks to these sponsors: Quality Sleep Mattress Barn, GFL Environmental, Andrew Johnson Bank, Ballad Health, First Horizon Bank, Gateway Ford, General Morgan Inn, Greeneville Federal Bank, Greeneville Flyboys, Greeneville Light & Power System, Greeneville Oil & Petroleum, MECO Corporation, TEVET, Consumer Credit Union, Food City, Heritage Community Bank, John Deere Power Products, Nickle Ridge Winery, Publix, Silver Star Design Company, Walmart Logistics, and Nanny’s Bling Boutique.

For more information on the event, visit www.greenevilletn.gov or search for the “American Downtown 2022” event on Facebook.


Local_news
BMA Approves Budget With No Tax Increase

Greeneville residents will not see a property tax increase this year.

The Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a budget on Tuesday for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning in July, incorporating no increase to the town’s current property tax rate of $2.1775 per $100 of assessed property value.

Discussion of a 6-cent property tax rate increase initially proposed for 2023 is related to debt service payments for Greeneville City Schools’ HVAC and lighting project. The first phase of that project costs $7.7 million, and the Town of Greeneville voted in January to cover its $3.3 million contribution of that cost by paying $1 million in cash and $2.3 million in debt service. The school system is paying the remaining $4.6 million. Full replacement of the HVAC system at Greeneville Middle School is underway this summer through that project.

To balance the 2023 budget the board considered either a 6-cent increase in the property tax rate for residents within the Town of Greeneville or budget cuts equal to $267,000.

The board opted to make the cuts and discussed those extensively.

Most discussion revolved around projects that could be funded through either the general fund or the hotel/motel local occupancy tax, which projects to fund through either source and which to cut out of the budget for the upcoming year.

Town Administrator Todd Smith told the board to make up the $267,000 lacking in the general fund when the revenue generated by raising the property tax rate is removed, some items listed there could be funded through the hotel/motel tourism tax, which would mean removing items that before had been budgeted through that hotel/motel or local occupancy tax.

He recommended moving money designated for the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and the Dickson Williams Mansion from the general fund to the hotel/motel tax and removing funding for a second pavilion at the volleyball complex that broke ground last year, new pickleball courts, upgrades to the tennis courts and funding for Parks & Recreation’s annual Greene Fling event. Smith also suggested moving the $96,000 budgeted for the purchase of a police cruiser from the general fund to a specific police department fund and removing or reducing three other projects.

Hotel/motel tax revenue must be used to “put heads in beds,” Parks & Recreation Director Butch Patterson said.

He said that funding is somewhat flexible but must go toward projects and initiatives that bring in tourists and visitors to stay in hotels, which pay the local occupancy tax.

“That hotel/motel revenue source will be with us next year, so I think we will have the same opportunity to look at funding those projects, and that may not be a bad idea since we’ve got a brand new dog park and disc golf course, beach volleyball under construction, and we still have to figure out the league play there,” Smith said.

Finance Director Lora Young said the town expects to see about $200,000 generated through that tax in the coming year.

Alderman Scott Bullington opposed removing those items from the 2023 budget, saying that prices will only rise and make the same projects even more expensive to complete next year.

“Wouldn’t it be better to buy it now at today’s money than put it off to next year? You’ll be asking for $35,000 next year because prices aren’t going down,” he said.

“The volleyball pavilion makes sense to me because we’ve already started that project, but my suggestion is to wait on the tennis and pickleball courts as we go into a recession,” Alderwoman Kristen Girton said.

Girton asked Patterson to rank the tennis court upgrades, which town officials said they hoped for joint funding from the county to cover, against the volleyball pavilion, the pickleball courts and the $8,000 contribution for Parks & Recreation’s Spring Fling event as far as which is most important to fund this year.

“I’d say Spring Fling is number one because it’s the cheapest, and it will bring people in,” Patterson said.

That cost is in the 2023 budget, with the funds coming from hotel/motel tax. That tax will also fund the town’s $100,000 contribution to the Greene County Partnership, $68,000 for NPAC utilities and maintenance, $24,000 to Main Street: Greeneville, $10,000 to the Dickson Williams Mansion.

Additionally in the budget approved Tuesday, funding for police vehicles was moved from the general fund to the police reserve, the town reduced its purchase of night vision goggles for the police department from 10 to 5, and removed costs for Town Hall cleaning services and concrete for the Parks & Recreation maintenance building.

The board’s vote on the matter was split, with Girton, who made the motion to remove those items in order to fund the others through hotel/motel tax and keep property tax rates the same, and Ginny Kidwell voting against Bullington and Alderman Tim Teague. Mayor W.T. Daniels broke the tie and voted with Girton and Kidwell to pass the budget balanced at $43.4 million.

In other business the board also approved Teague to serve as vice mayor, formally approved the city schools budget and officially appropriated funds in the 2023 budget to the Greene County Partnership and Keep Greene Beautiful.

The board also authorized the town to participate in the federal Safety Partners Matching Grant Program with Public Entity Partners, gave approval for the Greeneville Police Department to apply for a grant for bulletproof vests and for the purchase of new technology for the new fire station’s emergency operations center, and reappointed Lindy Riley and Ben Brooks to a three-year term on the Greeneville Municipal Planning Commission and Angelo Botta to a four-year term on the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board.

Following the meeting, the board convened a brief Beer Board meeting to approve an application for on-premises beer consumption at Rural Resources’ BrewFest, to be hosted downtown in September, and beer permit for The Greene, which recently opened at 901 Tusculum Blvd.


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