Alexander: World’s fastest supercomputer will again be at ORNL

Summit Supercomputing Press Conference

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, second from left, a Tennessee Republican, at a Friday morning press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, right; Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, center; and representatives Bill Foster and Dan Lipinski. (Submitted photo)


U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

Note: This story was last updated at 11:25 a.m.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will have the world’s fastest next-generation supercomputer, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander announced at a Friday morning press conference with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, said the new computer will provide five times the performance of Titan, the current system, and support advanced scientific and materials research to improve economic and national security.

The “next-generation hybrid supercomputer” will be called Summit, and it will be delivered in 2017, the senator said.

“Once again the world’s fastest computer will be in the United States, and once again it will be at Oak Ridge,” Alexander said. “Supercomputing has helped Tennessee become a center for advanced manufacturing with the arrival of new companies, including several in the auto industry, creating thousands of good-paying jobs. Tennessee can continue to thrive and create many more good jobs with the use of this new supercomputer.” [Read more…]

Four workers evaluated, released after electrical fire at Toxco

Oak Ridge Fire Department Fire Engine at Toxco

The Oak Ridge Fire Department responded to a small, intense electrical fire on Thursday morning at Toxco, a company that processes low-level radioactive waste. The fire was in a one-story metal building at the back of the company’s site on Flint Road.


Four workers were evaluated for minor respiratory issues and released after a small, intense electrical fire was reported at a company that repackages low-level radioactive waste in central Oak Ridge on Thursday morning, authorities said.

The fire at Toxco Materials Management Center on Flint Road was reported at about 11:03 a.m. Thursday. It was in a large one-story metal building at the back of the site, said Marty Griffith, Oak Ridge Fire Department battalion chief.

Electrical equipment inside the building was on fire, and the only way to put it out was to disconnect power, which the Oak Ridge Electric Department did, Griffith said. He said the area where the fire occurred is used to repackage waste, and it is fed by 440 volts of electricity.

Once the power was disconnected, firefighters were able to put out the fire with fire extinguishers. [Read more…]

Board orders demolition of Tyrone Road building, but Magic Wok excluded

Wender Building

A city board on Thursday ordered the demolition of this building on East Tyrone Road within 30 days. The Magic Wok restaurant, which is in a separate diner on the western side of the building, is not affected.


Note: This story was last updated at 12:55 p.m. Nov. 14.

Despite a plea for another extension, a city board on Thursday ordered that a commercial building on East Tyrone Road be demolished within 30 days. The demolition order does not apply to the popular Magic Wok restaurant, which is in a separate diner on the western side of the building.

The Oak Ridge Board of Building and Housing Code Appeals had previously given the building owners more time to develop a repair or demolition plan, including a five-month extension in June. At Thursday’s meeting, board members suggested they hadn’t seen enough work take place since then.

“I’m seeing very little progress,” said board member Joe Lee, who made the motion to demolish within 30 days, which is what the city staff had requested. “This has been an ongoing issue for a decade or more.”

The city staff said the partially occupied commercial structure has been declared unfit for human occupation or use because of code violations, and a demolition deadline expired Thursday. The staff said the estimated cost of repairs exceeds 50 percent of the building’s value, which is an important benchmark for issuing a demolition order. The staff has said the building is in a state of disrepair, lacks adequate fire and panic exits, and the roof and interior have not been adequately maintained for several years.

The motion to demolish the building at 123 and 135 East Tyrone Road was approved in a 6-0 vote on Thursday. Voting in favor of that motion were Chair Bruce LeForce, Vice Chair Philip Nipper, Secretary Amy Seiber, Lee, and board members Phil Yager and Leonar Vaughen. Board member Aaron Wells was not present. [Read more…]

More than 8,000 cubic feet of natural gas leaked into former Kroger on Tuesday

Kroger Gas Leak and ORFD and ORUD

Businesses around the former Kroger grocery store on South Illinois Avenue were evacuated on Tuesday afternoon after a gas leak was reported.


If it had exploded, the 8,500 cubic feet of natural gas that leaked into the former Kroger grocery store on South Illinois Avenue on Tuesday could have had a devastating impact on the shopping center and blown out windows in nearby businesses, possibly even across the street, a city official said Wednesday.

“Had it exploded, we would have been on national news,” Oak Ridge Fire Department Chief Darryl Kerley said. “It could have been devastating for all the businesses in that complex.”

Authorities suspect that the gas slowly flowed into the 30,000-square-foot grocery store starting Tuesday morning through an uncapped gas line that was once connected to an oven.

By the time emergency workers responded to a report of a gas leak on Tuesday afternoon, Kerley said, “the store was almost completely filled with a dangerous concentration of natural gas.” [Read more…]

After rough first quarter, Wildcats warm up in 70-54 season-opener

Oak Ridge Wildcats Geevantay Gee and Grace Christian

Junior guard Geevantay Gee (12), the only returning starter to play in the season-opener, scored the only points for the Wildcats during the first quarter against Grace Christian on Tuesday, but the rest of the team played better in the next three quarters and Oak Ridge won 70-54.


KARNS—They had a rough start in the season-opener on Tuesday, but the relatively young Oak Ridge Wildcats improved after the first quarter and turned a 12-point deficit into a 70-54 win.

Junior point guard Geevantay Gee, the only returning starter to play in the season-opener at Grace Christian in Karns, scored the only points for the Wildcats during the first quarter—seven total. Meanwhile, the Rams started hot and quickly racked up 19 points.

But after their nerves calmed, the Wildcats started defending better—stepping up their pressure and forcing turnovers—and their performance improved. For example, Oak Ridge Coach Aaron Green said, the Wildcats had two assists at the half, and Gee alone had five in the second.

After giving up 19 points in the first quarter, the Wildcats held the Rams to 35 total in the next three. Green said he thought Grace Christian became fatigued. [Read more…]

Shopping center evacuated after gas leak reported

Kroger Gas Leak and ORFD and ORUD

A shopping center was evacuated on Tuesday afternoon after a gas leak was reported at the former Kroger grocery store on South Illinois Avenue.


A shopping center was evacuated Tuesday afternoon after a gas leak was reported at the former Kroger grocery store on South Illinois Avenue.

Emergency workers remained on the scene for several hours and were still there as of about 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The gas leak was reported at about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, and Oak Ridge emergency workers quickly evacuated surrounding stores, including China Wok, Nixon’s Deli, Mr. K’s Used Books and CDs, and Big Kmart. They also closed off the surrounding parking lot.

An employee at Mr. K’s smelled gas inside the store Tuesday afternoon, evening manager Kelly Smith said. The staff initially thought it might be coming from NIxon’s, the deli next door. But then they learned that Nixon’s doesn’t use natural gas. A walk around the shopping center’s parking lot determined that the gas was probably coming from the former Kroger store, Smith said.

The odor was getting stronger and stronger, he said. [Read more…]

City board to reconsider repair, demolition orders for Tyrone Road building

Wender Building

The deadline for the demolition of a commercial building that once housed The Oak Ridger newspaper on Tyrone Road near Jackson Square expires Thursday, and after a five-month postponement, a city board will reconsider a repair or demolition order for the building that day. Under plans announced in May, the Magic Wok restaurant, which is separate from the building, would remain, as would a small northwestern portion of the building.


The deadline for the demolition of a commercial building that was once home to The Oak Ridger newspaper and other businesses on Tyler and East Tyrone roads expires Thursday, November 13, and a city board could reconsider a repair or demolition order that day.

The partially occupied commercial structure has been declared unfit for human occupation or use because of code violations, the city staff said.

The Oak Ridge Board of Building and Housing Code Appeals previously tabled the repair or demolition order for five months to allow for partial demolition in preparation for the construction of the remaining building. The demolition deadline expires Thursday, and permit applications are to be submitted to the city by December.

The potential demolition and repair orders to be considered Thursday would not apply to the separate manufactured structure that now houses the popular Magic Wok restaurant. [Read more…]

Wildcats use playoff ‘fury,’ determination to eliminate Soddy-Daisy

Oak Ridge Wildcats Tee Higgins and Soddy-Daisy Trojans

Sophomore wide receiver Tee Higgins (5) of the Oak Ridge Wildcats catches a 30-yard touchdown pass over defender Christian Bell (26) of the Soddy-Daisy Trojans, giving Oak Ridge a 23-14 lead midway through the third quarter in a first-round playoff game on Friday. (Photos by Julio Culiat)


Note: This story was last updated at 10:15 a.m.

Ahead by 17-14 at halftime, the Oak Ridge Wildcats played with fury and determination in the second half of their first-round playoff game on Friday and opened up a large lead against Soddy-Daisy, winning 53-28—despite an impressive offensive performance by the Trojans.

The undefeated Wildcats were not happy with the three-point margin at halftime.

“For it to be that close was just unacceptable,” junior running back Jaylen Nickerson said.

The 11-0 team was determined to play better in the second half against the best offense they had played all year, Coach Joe Gaddis said.

“We just came out and played with a fury,” he said.

While the Trojans had held Oak Ridge to two touchdowns and a field goal in the first half, they allowed four in the second—including two by Nickerson—and gave up a safety and an interception returned for a touchdown, or 36 points total. [Read more…]

Wildcats open playoffs at home tonight; coach asks for huge, loud crowd

Oak Ridge Wildcats Football Helmet

The undefeated Oak Ridge Wildcats play in the first round of the Class 5A football playoffs at home tonight against the Soddy-Daisy Trojans. The game starts at 7 p.m. today (Friday, November 7) at Blankenship Field in Oak Ridge.

Coach Joe Gaddis is asking for a huge, loud crowd.

“As we all know, playoff games are ‘winner take all’ in nature,” Gaddis said in a note to fans.”The winner advances, and the loser is finished for the season. It’s hard to believe but we have only had one home playoff game since 2005, and with that in mind, let’s have a HUGE and LOUD crowd Friday night! The weather is going to be cool, crisp, and beautiful…real football weather!”

The Oak Ridge Wildcats Football Boosters will have a tailgate party starting at 4:30 p.m. [Read more…]

Sheriff intervenes in standoff between mayor, HR director over computer hard drives

Cathy Best of Anderson County Human Resources Department

Human Resources Director Cathy Best is pictured above in the Anderson County Human Resources Department on Wednesday afternoon. With Best’s agreement, the passwords to the department’s computers had been changed, and a few Anderson County Sheriff’s Department deputies were stationed near the entrance to the HR office as Best and Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank sought to resolve a dispute over how to copy two computer hard drives in the office.


CLINTON—After the sheriff intervened, the Anderson County mayor and human resources director remained at a standoff Wednesday afternoon over how to copy the hard drives of two computers in the county’s Human Resources Department.

The hard drives could contain personnel records related to building inspector Lisa Crumpley, who was terminated on October 9 and has threatened to sue the county. Her personnel file has been reported missing.

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said she wants to preserve records related to Crumpley’s wrongful termination claim, as instructed by Knoxville law firm Kramer Rayson LLP, which represents Crumpley.

On Tuesday, the day after Human Resources Director Cathy Best announced her resignation, Frank proposed sending the hard drives used by Best and Human Resources Generalist Kerri Ashley, who has also resigned, to a Knoxville company to have copies made.

Terry Frank

Terry Frank

But Best objected, Frank said, and the mayor had a technician from Computer Systems Plus come to the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton on Wednesday morning to make copies on-site. The county consultant had started disassembling the computers when Sheriff Paul White showed up, and the technician quit working because he believed he could be arrested if he continued, the mayor said.

Best said she does not object to copying the hard drives, but she wants to ensure that the proper procedure is followed. She said her department’s hard drives could contain health information that is not public, conversations with attorneys during the past 10 years, and information that might relate to an investigation by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department of Crumpley’s missing personnel file.

“I have a right and a duty to maintain the security of these files,” Best said. [Read more…]

School Board winners: Eby, McLean, Marshall

Four Oak Ridge Board of Education Candidates

The three winning Oak Ridge Board of Education candidates are pictured above. Bob Eby, second from right, the only incumbent, was the top vote-getter. He was followed by candidate Laura McLean, right, and Paige Marshall, left. Also pictured is Andy Howe.


Note: This story was last updated at 1:35 a.m. Nov. 5.

Imagine this: A politician runs for re-election and tells voters he wants to raise taxes—and they re-elect him anyway. Seems unlikely, right?

Well, that’s what happened Tuesday night in Oak Ridge.

Bob Eby, the only incumbent in the eight-person race for the Oak Ridge Board of Education, hasn’t been afraid to tell voters that he thinks Oak Ridge Schools need more money—and he intends to ask for a tax increase next year to help the school system.

His honesty hasn’t hurt him with voters; Eby was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s municipal election. He finished with 4,635 votes in Anderson and Roane counties, according to unofficial results. That was almost 900 votes ahead of the second-place finisher, newcomer Laura McLean. She ended the night with 3,774 votes.

Another newcomer, Paige Marshall, was about 400 votes behind McLean, picking up the third of the three available seats with 3,345 votes. [Read more…]

City Council winners: Gooch, Chinn, Callison, and Smith

Five Oak Ridge City Council Candidate 2014

Three of the four candidates elected to the Oak Ridge City Council on Tuesday are pictured above during a September forum. Warren Gooch, second from left, was the top vote-getter, finishing ahead of Rick Chinn, second from right, and Kelly Callison, right. Incumbent Anne Garcia Garland, center, was not re-elected. Candidate Gary Love is also pictured.


Note: This story was updated at 1:28 a.m. Nov. 5.

Three newcomers and a former member were elected to the Oak Ridge City Council on Tuesday. The winners were Warren Gooch, Rick Chinn, Kelly Callison, and Ellen Smith.

There were four seats available, and two incumbents—Anne Garcia Garland and David Mosby—were unseated. Two other incumbents—Mayor Tom Beehan and Mayor Pro Tem Jane Miller—did not seek re-election, meaning a majority of the seven-member body will be new.

“It’s clearly a transitional election,” said Gooch, a lawyer and the top vote-getter. [Read more…]