Clinton alumni propose multi-sport facility

Clinton High School Multi-sports Complex

A group of Clinton Senior High School alumni have proposed a better facility for current and future student athletes. Pictured above is a proposed 12,000-square-foot modern sports facility. It would include universal access for all student athletes, with enough room for multiple teams to practice at the same time. (Image courtesy CSHS Legacy)

 

Alumni from Clinton High School have proposed a better facility for current and future student athletes. They have plans for a 12,000-square-foot multi-sport complex that could be used as a practice facility for several sports and host volleyball matches and wrestling meets.

The facility would include a weight training area, and artificial surface practice field for football, band, cheerleaders, and dance teams. A second story would have office space for coaches and a film room, according to plans posted on the website CSHS Legacy.

WYSH Radio in Clinton reported that the Anderson County Board of Education has given officials at Clinton High School the go-ahead to start exploring the possibility of constructing the new multi-sport facility at no cost to taxpayers.

WYSH said the proposed project would also renovate the existing, but aging, football field house. A second and separate part of the proposed project would also renovate the Don Lockard Gymnasium. [Read more…]

July 4 victim says driver hit two vehicles, stopped twice, continued backing—then ‘floored it’

Michael Eldridge Testimony

Victim Michael Eldridge testifies in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

 

Note: This story was last updated at 10:27 p.m.

One of the victims in the July 4 parking lot crash in Oak Ridge said the driver charged with homicide and aggravated assault hit a Thunderbird, stopped, slowly continued backing, hit a van, stopped, and then slowly continued backing—and then he “floored it.”

“Then, he came toward us,” victim Michael Eldridge testified during a bond hearing in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge on Tuesday.

The bond hearing was for Lee Cromwell, the 65-year-old driver accused of causing the fatal crash. Cromwell has been charged with homicide and aggravated assault, among other charges.

The crash killed James Robinson, 37, of Knoxville, who was watching fireworks with his wife and two daughters, and it injured 11 other people.  [Read more…]

Bond reduced for Cromwell, driver in fatal parking lot crash

Derek Setzer and Lee Cromwell

Lee Cromwell, 65, of Oak Ridge, at right, is escorted through Anderson County General Sessions Court on Tuesday by Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Derek Setzer. Cromwell has been charged with homicide and aggravated assault, among other charges, after a fatal parking lot crash after July 4 fireworks in Oak Ridge. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

 

Note: This story was last updated at 8:25 p.m.

Bond was reduced to $100,000 on Tuesday for an Oak Ridge man accused of killing one person and injuring 11 people in a parking lot crash after July 4 fireworks.

There were concerns about whether Lee Cromwell, 65, considers himself a “sovereign citizen” and denies governmental authority, and Anderson County General Sessions Court Judge Roger Miller reported that Cromwell was somewhat defiant at his arraignment.

Still, Miller lowered bond for Cromwell from about $227,000 to $100,000, more than cutting it in half.

Cromwell’s attorney, James Scott of Knoxville, said his client could be released on bond within 24 hours. Cromwell is prohibited from contacting the victims. [Read more…]

Despite lobbying, Manhattan Project park HQ proposed in Denver

K-25 Building Aerial View

Now demolished, the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building, pictured above, was once used to enrich uranium for atomic weapons and commercial nuclear power plants. Located in west Oak Ridge, the site could become part of a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. There is a separate effort to preserve the site’s history; that work could be incorporated into the new park. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy)

 

Note: This story was last updated at 1:10 p.m. July 29.

Local officials had proposed locating it in Oak Ridge, but federal officials have proposed locating the headquarters for the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Denver.

The new park, which is still in the planning stages, would include three sites: Oak Ridge; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico.

A National Park Service release on Tuesday said there would be a site manager for each location who will coordinate with local U.S. Department of Energy staff, Tribes, community members, and area partners. The site managers will report to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park’s superintendent, who will be located at an NPS central office that has been proposed in Denver. [Read more…]

City budget raises trash fee, provides more for city infrastructure

Oak Ridge City Council on July 28, 2015

The Oak Ridge City Council raised the trash pickup fee by $3.50 during a special budget meeting on Monday, July 27, 2015, and the Council set aside an extra $260,000 for capital projects such as buildings and schools. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today) 

 

Note: This story was last updated at 10:05 a.m. July 28.

There will be a $3.50 increase in the monthly trash fee, and more money—$260,000—will be reserved for capital projects such as buildings and schools, while city officials are not expected to change the new property tax rate provided by the state after five-year reappraisals completed this year.

The trash fee will increase from $7 to $10.50 per month. That change is expected to provide another $335,000 per year in revenue.

The new tax rate—state officials call it a tax-neutral rate—is $2.52 per $100 of assessed value. It was approved in the first of two readings by the Oak Ridge City Council during a three-hour special meeting on Monday. The second reading hasn’t been scheduled yet, but the meeting is expected soon. [Read more…]

Tax rate increases, changes in AC, Clinton, Oliver Springs, RC, Rocky Top

Increases in the property tax rate have been approved or are anticipated in budgets that have already passed in Anderson County, Clinton, Oliver Springs, Roane County, and Rocky Top.

Those increases are in addition to the increases already expected because of a drop in overall property assessments in Anderson and Roane counties. The 4 percent drop in Anderson County and 3.47 percent decline in Roane County mean the tax-neutral rate—the rate meant to bring in the same amount of revenues after a reappraisal as before—goes up.

The highest tax increase, which includes a 6-cent change in the certified tax rate after five-year reappraisals, is 40 cents. That’s in Rocky Top, where the new tax rate is $2 per $100 of assessed value.

The lowest so far is in Anderson County, where county commissioners have approved a 10-cent increase for 2 percent pay raises for school and county employees. That’s in addition to the roughly 16-cent increase in the tax-neutral, or certified, tax rate.

Oak Ridge will be the last of those half-dozen governments to consider any changes to the tax-neutral rate. In Oak Ridge, the rate has been calculated at $2.52, up 13 cents from the current $2.39.

Oak Ridge could also be the only one of those half-dozen governments that doesn’t add a tax rate increase to this year’s higher tax-neutral rate. So far, it appears that a majority of Oak Ridge City Council members could support the $2.52 rate, although two Council members, Trina Baughn and Rick Chinn, have advocated for a reduction, possibly by two cents to $2.50.

Here is information on the increases or potential increases: [Read more…]

Oak Ridge may not increase tax rate above reappraisal change

Oak Ridge City Council 2014

The Oak Ridge City Council is pictured above in 2014. (Photo courtesy City of Oak Ridge)

 

Property tax rates are already expected to go up in local cities and counties because of an unprecedented drop in property assessments.

And additional increases have been approved or are anticipated in budgets that have already passed in Anderson County, Clinton, Oliver Springs, Roane County, and Rocky Top.

Oak Ridge could be the exception. The city could see an increase in the certified tax rate (state officials call it a tax-neutral rate) from $2.39 per $100 of assessed value to $2.52.

So far, no Oak Ridge City Council members have publicly endorsed raising taxes beyond the change in the tax-neutral rate required by the five-year reappraisals completed this year.

Four City Council members, a majority of the seven-member body, said during a budget work session on Tuesday that they will support the $2.52 tax-neutral rate or that it’s important to stay at that rate for now, until they have more information. [Read more…]

THP releases report on ORHS football player crash

Authorities said the three Oak Ridge High School football players injured in a Tuesday afternoon crash were not wearing seat belts, and the driver has been charged after the car he was driving crashed into a utility pole in Blount County.

Preliminary information from the Tennessee Highway Patrol said the 2000 Ford Taurus was being driven northbound on U.S. 321, also known as Lamar Alexander Parkway, by a 17-year-old unidentified juvenile from Oak Ridge, when the male driver let the vehicle exit the northbound lane, where it then entered into the center turning lane.

“The driver then crossed over the turn lane and entered into the southbound lanes of Highway 321,” the THP said. “The vehicle then crossed over both the southbound lanes and shoulder, where it struck a curb before it entered into a grass field area. The vehicle then struck a high spot of earth in the field, which made the vehicle go airborne.” [Read more…]

Two ORHS football players listed in serious condition after car crash, hospital says

Oak Ridge Wildcats Jaylen Nickerson and McMinn County

Junior running back Jaylen Nickerson (29) scored two touchdowns for the Oak Ridge Wildcats at McMinn County on Friday, September 19, 2014. Nickerson was one of three Oak Ridge High School football players injured in a Tuesday afternoon car crash in Blount County. (File photo by Julio Culiat)

 

Note: This story was updated at 4:41 p.m.

Two Oak Ridge High School football players are listed in serious condition at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville after a Tuesday afternoon car crash in Blount County, a spokesperson said Wednesday afternoon.

Jaylen Nickerson, who will be a senior this year, and DeVonta Mitchell, who will be a junior, are both at the hospital in serious condition, spokesperson Susan Wyatt said.

Davon Middleton, a third ORHS student-athlete injured in the crash, was reportedly taken to Blount Memorial, treated for a concussion, and released.

Nickerson is a running back, Middleton is a defensive back, and Mitchell is a wide receiver. Nickerson was one of two main running backs last year. T.J. Allison was the other. [Read more…]

Driver of pickup truck that killed one, injured nine charged with homicide

Lee Cromwell

Lee Cromwell

The driver of the Dodge Ram pickup truck that backed through the parking lot at Midtown Community Center after July 4 fireworks, killing one and injuring nine, has been charged with homicide, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment, authorities said.

Lee Cromwell, 65, was arrested at 11:40 a.m. Wednesday at the Oak Ridge Police Department without incident by patrol officers, authorities said.

Cromwell’s truck allegedly hit James Robinson, 37, of Knoxville, killing him, the ORPD said after the crash.

Cromwell has been charged with one count of vehicular homicide, one count of criminally negligent homicide, one count of reckless homicide, 12 counts of aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment, and one count of driving with a license that is suspended or revoked, Oak Ridge Police Chief Jim Akagi said. [Read more…]

Three ORHS football players taken to hospital after Tuesday afternoon crash

Three Oak Ridge High School football players were taken to two hospitals after a crash in Blount County on Tuesday afternoon, officials said.

The three were reportedly leaving Maryville to come to practice in Oak Ridge at the time of the crash, Wildcats Coach Joe Gaddis said.

He said two players were taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville and the third was taken to Blount Memorial.

Gaddis said the three had apparently spent the night with a friend. [Read more…]

AC Commission approves 10-cent tax rate increase for pay raises

Rachel Minardo at Anderson County Commission

Rachel Minardo, president of the Anderson County Education Association, and others have advocated for a 4 percent pay raise for county school teachers and staff. Above, Minardo talks to the 16-member Anderson County Commission in Clinton on Monday. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

 

Note: This story was last updated at 4 p.m.

CLINTON—After rejecting a few other proposals, Anderson County commissioners on Monday approved a 10-cent property tax rate increase to fund 2 percent pay raises for county employees and school teachers and staff.

The vote for the tax rate increase was 9-5-1.

Eight cents of the 10-cent increase is for Anderson County Schools, and the other two cents will cover the pay raise for county employees, with the exception of elected officials and county commissioners.

Earlier in the five-hour meeting, commissioners rejected proposals to:

  • raise the property tax rate by 10 cents for a 2 percent pay raise for the schools,
  • raise the tax rate by 5 cents for a 1 percent raise,
  • approve the school budget as submitted with no tax increase,
  • raise the property tax rate by 7.5 cents for the schools, and
  • use $1.7 million from the fund balance for a one-time bonus for schools in Anderson County, Oak Ridge, and Clinton.

Teachers said they haven’t had a pay raise since 2012, and they last received a bonus in 2013 and that was $200. They have said all the surrounding school districts except Campbell County pay more, and they want to be able to recruit and retain good teachers—and not be a training ground for other districts. [Read more…]