Marilyn Stefan visited the Greeneville-Greene County Public Library on Wednesday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many area businesses and offices. The library officially reopened Tuesday by appointment only.
“It’s delightful to be able to have access,” said Stefan, ready to go through the stacks in the fiction section. “I have felt like I was blocked off, and everyone was. You just feel like a chunk of your life has been cut off. I missed a friend in the library. It’s good to come back.”
Executive Director Erin Evans agrees.
“That’s what we do is we serve the public,” Evans said. “If you don’t have public, you can’t serve them, so it’s nice to have them back. Patrons have been delighted to be able to come in and choose their own materials. We have a couple of people who have needed to use the PCs to do their taxes.
“We are excited, even though it’s not fully open, to be able to have at least this going.”
Evans said the library has been as busy as possible with limited appointments available.
“A lot of people come by themselves but if they bring kids, that still counts as one appointment, one family, so we’ve had up to 20 people a day,” she said. “Our appointments are full so we are getting a lot of use.”
In addition to plexiglass shields purchased last summer for the book return and checkout counter, other precautions in use to reduce the possibility of spreading COVID-19 include wiping computers and other surfaces down after use and keeping an ample supply of hand sanitizer available throughout the building. Books are quarantined after patrons return them, and patrons are strongly encouraged to wear masks. Restrooms are only available for people with appointments.
Evans said trying to reopen with a pandemic still on is challenging, but the appointment system is a nice segue into hopefully opening more fully later this spring.
People who don’t feel comfortable going into the library yet can still take advantage of the front porch pick-up.
“We’re still taking requests on the phone or online, and then we fill the requests and check them out and people pick them up at the front door,” Evans said. “You don’t have to have an appointment to do that.”
She is holding off on plans to resume programming, especially large crowd programing like the summer reading program.
“We’re still waiting to see over the next few weeks what happens,” Evans explained. “We don’t want to create a situation where we’re a super spreader, especially with children, because we don’t have the capacity here to safely distance everybody if we’ve got 60 kids. So programming is still in a holding pattern.
“But we do hope to at least do a hybrid summer reading program. The state has provided an online platform so that we can do an online reading club. We may use that and then create some of our book lists and craft kits, maybe a couple story times that we have limited kids at. We’re going to do something. It’s just a matter of how to make it safe for everyone.”
Although Evans and other library staff got a lot done during the closure, including weeding outdated and overly loved books out of circulation and opening up the nonfiction stacks, cleaning and reorganizing, they hope they won’t have to backtrack again.
The library follows the Town of Greeneville as far as which stage of reopening it is in. However, if case numbers spike back up again, the library’s board of directors will make the final decision as to whether to remain open.
Thirty-minute appointments are available 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. To make an appointment, call 638-5034.
The Cox library remains closed to the public but research services are available through the website.
Greene County recorded 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to a daily update from the Tennessee Department of Health.
The county currently has 140 active cases of the virus.
An open vaccination clinic with no appointments required will be held 1-6:30 p.m. Thursday at the former Greene Valley Developmental Center, 4850 East Andrew Johnson Highway.
Anyone 16 or older will be able to receive a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines during the clinic Thursday. Registration will be done on site. Those attending should bring a form of identification to establish age.
The Greene Valley vaccination site, operated by the county health department, also continues to operate by appointment.
To book an appointment, visit vaccinate.tn.gov and click the blue “Proceed to COVID-19 questionnaire” button at the bottom of the page to start a registration.
For help scheduling a vaccination, call the Northeast Regional COVID-19 Registration Line at 423-979-4689. The COVID-19 Registration Line is staffed Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Other vaccination sites at local pharmacies can be located using vaccinefinder.org. The sites should be contacted to check availability and for scheduling.
COVID-19 testing times at the Greene County Health Department, 810 W. Church St., have been modified to 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to the Northeast Regional Health Department.
Self-test kits continue to be available for adults on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Standard nasal swab testing will be available on Tuesday and Thursday. Local county health departments will continue to offer COVID-19 testing at no charge.
There has been much talk in recent years about the Chinese government engineering efforts to appropriate American technologies and intellectual property. A jury trial that started Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Greeneville will explore the issues of economic espionage and allegedly stolen trade secrets.
Xiaorong You, also known as Shannon You, is charged by the federal government in an 11-count indictment with conspiracy to commit economic espionage for allegedly stealing more than $119 million in trade secrets from multiple companies, including Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport.
You, 57, formally entered a not guilty plea Tuesday to the charges. Her defense team includes Greeneville lawyers Corey B. Shipley and Curt Collins, along with Johnson City lawyer Thomas C. Jessee. Shipley is a former federal prosecutor.
Senior U.S. Judge J. Ronnie Greer will preside at the trial, which may last up to three weeks.
Collins said the government could present more than 30 witnesses and 500 exhibits in support of its case. It is not immediately known if You will testify in her own defense.
You’s trial has been continued several times because of health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jury trials have resumed in federal court, with social distancing, Plexiglas barriers and other COVID-19 safety protocols being observed.
The 12-person jury and four alternates were selected Tuesday. Opening statements by the government and defense are expected Wednesday morning.
A bespectacled You, wearing a black pants suit and pink shirt, sat with her defense team Tuesday afternoon as Greer explained the charges to the jury.
You was indicted in February 2019 by a federal grand jury sitting in Greeneville for conspiracy to steal trade secrets related to a flavor-preserving process that coats the inside of cans. She was also indicted on seven counts of theft of trade secrets and one count of wire fraud.
You worked for about five years as an engineer with Coca-Cola in Atlanta prior to her employment with Eastman Chemical Company.
A superseding indictment filed in August 2020 by federal prosecutors adding the espionage charges alleges You and two Chinese co-defendants conspired to “knowingly steal and without authorization” trade secrets belonging to companies that include Eastman Chemical, Akzo-Nobel, Dow Chemical, PPG Industries, Sherwin Williams and ToyoChem.
The trade secrets were allegedly stolen “to knowingly and intentionally benefit the Chinese Communist Party and governments of the People’s Republic of China” along with Shandong Province in China, the Chinese city of Weihai and what the government terms “China Company #1.”
You, who was born in China but was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1992, remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. You lists a home address in Lansing, Michigan. Defense motions to allow You to be released on bond have been denied by Greer, who agreed with the government’s contention that she is a potential flight risk.
Also named in the superseding indictment for conspiracy to commit economic espionage is 62-year-old Liu Xiangchen, 61, of Shandong Province, China; and Hongmei Fan.
The indictment alleges that You, Liu, and Fan, who is also believed to be in China, “formulated a plan in which You would exploit her employment with the two American employers to steal trade secrets and provide the information for the economic benefit of the Chinese company that Liu managed, which would manufacture and profit from products developed using the stolen trade secrets.”
The indictment alleges that in exchange, Liu “would cause the Chinese company to reward You for her theft, by helping her receive the Thousand Talent(s) Plan and another financial award, based on the trade secrets she stole, and by giving You an ownership share of a new company that would ‘own’ the stolen trade secrets in China.”
The Thousand Talents Plan is a Chinese government-backed technology awards program similar to a grant.
Conspirators also allegedly agreed “to compete with U.S. and foreign companies, including some of the owners of the stolen trade secrets, in China and elsewhere, by selling products designed, developed and manufactured using the stolen trade secrets,” the 2020 indictment states.
Jay Tabb, FBI executive assistant director for the National Security Branch, said in 2019 that You and her co-defendants “didn’t stop at going after technical secrets belonging to just one company. They allegedly targeted multiple companies and made off with trade secrets at an estimated value of almost $120 million.”
The government’s case is prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Tennessee and the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.
“The conduct alleged in (the) indictment exemplifies the rob, replicate and replace approach to technological development,” John C. Demers, U.S. Assistant Attorney General-National Security, said after You’s initial indictment.