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VOL. 41 | NO. 52 | Friday, December 29, 2017

Changes to who enforces state’s marijuana laws

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A law taking effect in January removes the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission from the Governor’s Task Force on Marijuana Eradication.

The push to remove the commission began in 2012, when WSMV-TV reported law enforcement discovered what they believed to be marijuana in the home of the commission’s director. Police never did a criminal investigation, and the director retired in 2012.

Still, state Sen. Bill Ketron pushed to have the commission removed from the task force. His bill passed in May 2017 and will take effect on Jan. 1

A representative for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation noted the commission had nine agents assigned to the task force, work that must be absorbed by other law enforcement agencies.

Trump to address Farm Bureau convention

President Donald Trump is returning to Tennessee to speak at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention on Jan. 8.

Georgia beef and poultry farmer Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, says the president’s decision to speak to the organization shows Trump’s dedication to farm and ranch families.

Says Duvall: “Farmers and ranchers and our rural communities are the bedrock of our nation. President Trump knows that.”

Trump’s visit to Nashville will be his second since taking office. He also came to the city in March to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of President Andrew Jackson and to hold a downtown rally.

Metro files opioid lawsuit to recoup taxpayer funds

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP has announced the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid drugs to recover taxpayer money and resources spent to combat the opioid crisis.

Nashville law firm Manson Johnson Conner PLLC is co-counsel on this case.

Opioid drugs kill over 100 Americans each day of the year, costing nearly $80 billion per year in lost productivity and increased social services, as well as for costs of treatment for drug abuse and addiction and for the unnecessary and harmful opioid prescriptions themselves.

The complaint alleges that the defendants “systematically and repeatedly disregarded the safety of their customers and the public” through their misleading promotion and over-supplying of opioids.

Charged by law to monitor and to report dangerous behavior, defendants are alleged to have failed to do so in favor of maximizing corporate profits and increasing their market share.

“Our city has been devastated by opioid addiction and all its related harms,” says Mark P. Chalos of Lieff Cabraser. “What we have seen in Nashville and throughout our region, is millions of pills being sold in communities where there aren’t millions of people. It is time the opioid manufacturers and distributors are held accountable for their wrongful conduct that has destroyed families and cost untold millions of taxpayer dollars in Nashville, across Tennessee, and throughout the U.S.”

The lawsuit is filed against a number of large opioid manufacturers and distributors including Purdue Pharma, Cephalon Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Noramco, Endo Health Solutions, Mallinckrodt Plc, Allergan PLC, Watson Pharmaceuticals, Watson Laboratories, Actavis LLC, Insys Therapeutics, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, Cardinal Health, Inc., and McKesson Corporation and related entities.

Noelle hotel opens on ‘Boutique Row’

“Boutique Row,’’ an area in downtown Nashville featuring high concept, high-end and unique hotels, has a new addition.

Rockbridge, a major investor in hospitality luxury, has announced the opening of Noelle, a 224-room luxury hotel in historic Printers Alley at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Church Street. The hotel is housed in the former home of one of downtown Nashville’s first luxury properties, Noel Place. The 13-story building was renovated by Nashville-based architects Feltus Hawkins Design, Nick Dryden of Dryden Architecture and Design.

Rockbridge says its vision has been focused on building a Nashville destination filled with thoughtful design elements and creative programming for guests and locals.

The hotel features restaurant Makeready Libations & Liberation, a coffee shop, Drug Store Coffee, a retail store, Keep Shop, and a working print shop, Little Prints.

A new tower, complete with a rooftop lounge, expands Noelle’s original footprint, while offering a new downtown vantage point, with views overlooking the Cumberland River and Nissan Stadium.

Wright Industries sold to JR Automation

Nashville-based Wright Industries has been acquired by JR Automation, a provider of intelligent automated manufacturing technology solutions.

Wright was involved in a deal in which JR Automation purchased Doerfer Corporation’s automation systems group that includes the Nashville company as well as several other firms in the U.S., Asia and Europe.

For 50 years, Wright has created automated solutions for the production of specialty/carbon fiber, films and webs as well as hazardous waste handling.

Primary end-markets for Wright include the aerospace, healthcare and textile industries.

The transaction marks the first major acquisition for JR Automation under the ownership of Crestview Partners, a New York-based private equity firm, which acquired JR Automation in March 2015.

“The acquisition of these businesses will solidify JR Automation’s position as a global leader in creating automated solutions, enabling us to better serve the needs of all of our customers,” says Mike DuBose, JR Automation chairman and CE0.

“In addition to increasing our presence in North America, this acquisition will extend JR’s footprint into Europe and Asia, further diversifying the end-markets and geographies we serve. Combining our operations, customer relationships, and complementary areas of expertise will further establish us as a global leader in industrial automation and robotics systems integration.”

Sentinel Capital adds Captain D’s

Nashville-headquartered Captain D’s, a fast-food, seafood restaurant, has been acquired by Sentinel Capital Partners, a private equity firm that invests in promising, lower middle market companies.

Captain D’s is the franchisor and operator of 530 Captain D’s restaurants in 21 U.S. states. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

With Captain D’s seafood menu based on ocean-caught fish and a beach-themed dining format, it is uniquely positioned in the QSR market, a sub category that has outgrown the broader restaurant industry since 2011, according to Sentinel.

“We are very excited to partner with Captain D’s highly-experienced and accomplished management team,” says John McCormack, a Sentinel senior partner.

“Captain D’s holds a unique market position and was recently recognized as one of the top 10 brands in America for consumer loyalty. Captain D’s continues to attract younger guests and is the clear category leader. Moreover, its same-store-sales growth over the past decade is in the very top QSR tier regardless of category.”

Captain D’s CEO, Phil Greifeld, a 22-year QSR industry veteran who has led Captain D’s for the past seven years, adds, “Sentinel’s more than two decades of experience in the restaurant franchising sector makes the firm an ideal partner for us as we enter a new phase of expansion. We see significant opportunities to grow inside our existing footprint as well as into new regions. Our brand has never been stronger.”

Uncle Nearest to build distillery, music venue

Nashville-based Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey has announced it is building a distillery, tasting room and music and event venue at Sand Creek Farm in Shelbyville.

The whiskey is currently being made in concert with a whiskey-maker in Nashville and will continue until the Nearest Green Distillery is complete.

The company owns the 313-acre farm where the original Jack Daniel Distillery was located and where Nathan “Nearest” Green, a master distiller from Lynchburg, Tennessee, taught the young Jack Daniel how to make Tennessee whiskey.

“We know most expected us to build at the historic Dan Call Farm,’’ says Kate Jerkens, vice president of sales and marketing for Uncle Nearest. But if you’ve ever been to Lynchburg, you know it’s Jack Daniel country,’’ she adds.

“They’ve spent more than a century and a lot of marketing dollars putting Lynchburg on the map. We decided to build outside of Lynchburg for a few reasons. One was our enormous respect for Jack Daniel. Another was the opportunity to broaden regional economic benefits through the creation of new and exciting opportunities in the neighboring community of Shelbyville.’’

The Bedford County commission recently approved the rezoning for Sand Creek Farm, which will be restored. A 300-foot former horse barn is being converted into the Nearest Green History Walk. An interactive gallery will tell the history of African-American contributions to the whiskey industry, as well as the history of Nearest Green, the first African American master distiller on record in the U.S.

The current 600-seat sales arena is being reimagined to double as a private concert venue for country music artists.

APSU adds 2 online master’s programs

Austin Peay State University has announced it will begin offering two Master of Arts in Education degrees in a totally online format.

The online programs begin March 2018.

Taught by on-campus facility, the programs are a Master of Arts in Education – Educational Leadership and a Master of Arts in Education – Curriculum & Instruction.

The programs were designed for licensed educators who wish to broaden their professional knowledge and may be completed in as few as 12 months.

The Master of Arts in Education – Educational Leadership is a CAEP-accredited program that will explore a variety of educational topics, including leadership, school finance, creating and sustaining positive school cultures, human resources administration, and school law and ethics. The program will offer multiple start dates and accelerated seven-week courses that enable students to prepare for career opportunities, including central office administrator, education administrator, or principal.

The Master of Arts in Education – Curriculum & Instruction also is a CAEP-accredited program that focuses on applying current theory, research, and technology to the design of curriculum and instructional models. By offering multiple start dates and accelerated seven-week courses, this program will prepare students for career opportunities such as an instructional coordinator, curriculum specialist, or curriculum and assessment director.