Public meeting Tuesday on proposed roundabout near ORHS

Oak Ridge Proposed Roundabout

 

The City of Oak Ridge has released a potential design of the proposed roundabout near Oak Ridge High School, and a city board will accept public comments on the possible intersection change during a Tuesday evening meeting.

The roundabout could be built at the five-way intersection of Providence Road, Pennsylvania Avenue, East Pasadena Lane, and North Tulane Avenue. City officials aren’t fond of the term, but many residents refer to the intersection as “Malfunction Junction.”

During the Tuesday evening meeting, the Oak Ridge Traffic Safety Advisory Board will discuss the city’s grant application for the roundabout under the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives program. The discussion will include an overview of the project, and the public will be allowed to comment. [Read more...]

City to apply for state grant to build roundabout at ‘Malfunction Junction’

Malfunction Junction at North Tulane Avenue in Oak Ridge

The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday agreed to apply for a state grant that could be used to help build a roundabout at the five-way intersection of North Tulane and Pennsylvania avenues, Providence Road, and East Pasadena Lane. Though city officials don’t like the name, the five-way intersection is sometimes referred to as “Malfunction Junction.”

 

The city of Oak Ridge plans to apply for a state grant to design and build a roundabout near Oak Ridge High School at a five-way intersection sometimes referred to as “Malfunction Junction.”

The Oak Ridge City Council unanimously approved the grant application on Monday. If approved, the Tennessee Department of Transportation grant would be used to build a roundabout at the intersection of Providence Road, Pennsylvania Avenue, East Pasadena Lane, and North Tulane Avenue.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $748,113. Tthe grant funding would come from the Transportation Alternative Program. TDOT funds 80 percent of those projects, excluding design, and a 20 percent local match is required.

The city’s cost would be about $150,000, and the city would pay for the design, officials said Monday. [Read more...]

Anderson committee to consider tax agreement for OR mall redevelopment

Oak Ridge Village Area Rendering

 

It’s already been approved by the Oak Ridge City Council, and a 10-year extension of the $13 million tax agreement that could be used to help redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall will next be considered by Anderson County officials.

The agreement will be considered by the Anderson County Operations Committee on Monday evening. It could then be considered by the full Anderson County Commission later this month.

Like Oak Ridge officials, Anderson County officials will consider extending the tax agreement for the 59-acre project by 10 years—from 20 years to 30.

Officials have described the proposed redevelopment, named Main Street Oak Ridge, as an $80 million project that could fill a “hole in the heart” of Oak Ridge, bring new retail life to the city’s downtown, and build a lasting legacy. [Read more...]

Fallen tree branch causes small electric line fire

Electric Line Fire on North Seneca Road

A fallen tree limb knocked down a power line on Friday night, starting a small fire in a yard on North Seneca Road.

 

A fallen tree limb knocked down a power line from a utility pole on Friday night, starting a small electric fire in a yard at 150 North Seneca Road.

The Oak Ridge police and fire departments blocked the road until the Oak Ridge Electric Department was able to respond and shut off the power.

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The fire was reported at about 11:30 p.m. Friday. It burned for about an hour but did not spread, and firefighters and police officers kept an eye on it while they waited for the power crew.

See another picture here:

[Read more...]

Wildcats defense sets tone early in 62-7 win over Karns

Oak Ridge Wildcats Football Helmet

Note: This story was last updated at 3 a.m. Oct. 11.

KARNS—The Wildcats defense set the tone early in the 62-7 win at Karns on Friday night.

Less than one minute into the game, senior linebacker Ricky Chitwood picked off a Beavers pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown. The Oak Ridge defense went on to score twice more in the first half, once on an interception by senior Ted Mitchell early in the second quarter and the other on a fumble recovery by senior Tommy Kaczocha as time expired at halftime. Both plays covered about 25 yards.

The offense added five touchdowns of its own in a flurry of scores—including two touchdown catches by sophomore Tee Higgins in the second quarter—and the score at halftime was 56-0. That’s the most ever for an Oak Ridge football team in the first half, according to David Clary of PrepRadio.com.

The six-yard and 38-yard touchdown passes to Higgins came from junior quarterbacks Logan Fadnek (8-for-11, 85 yards) and Gavin Warrington (2-for-3, 48 yards). Warrington also scored on a 23-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, while junior running back T.J. Allison scored on a two-yard run near the end of the first. Later, Fadnek connected with sophomore Caleb Jackson on a five-yard pass play to make it 42-0 at 2:16 in the first half. [Read more...]

Lincoln’s able to sell beer again while appeal pending

Lincoln's Sports Grille

Lincoln’s Sports Grille on South Illinois Avenue is pictured above on Monday evening.

 

They weren’t able to sell beer for more than a month, but an agreement reached with a city board in September, modified on Thursday, and approved by a judge on Friday allows Lincoln’s Sports Grille to resume selling the alcoholic beverage for now.

The Oak Ridge Beer Permit Board revoked Lincoln’s beer permit on August 28. The revocation went into effect immediately.

But Lincoln’s has appealed that decision and had asked that the revocation be put on hold while the legal case is pending. On September 16, the Beer Board agreed in a 5-2 vote.

The board’s agreement was initially conditioned upon a list of 13 items. One of the conditions, which would have required an owner to be present at all times, has since been removed. (The board approved the removal in a 4-0 vote on Thursday after a pair of split 2-2 votes.) [Read more...]

Oak Ridge relies on two running backs in near-shutout over Campbell County

Oak Ridge Wildcats T.J. Allison and Campbell County Joseph Elkins

Junior running back T.J. Allison (#6) of the Wildcats runs behind the blocking of senior tight end Ryan Waddell (#86) as senior Joseph Elkins (#5) of Campbell County tries to strip the ball away. Allison ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns on Friday. (Photos by Julio Culiat)

 

Note: This story was last updated at 2:15 p.m.

Wildcats shut down big passing gains for Cougars

The running game was working well and burning up the clock, so Oak Ridge coach Joe Gaddis stuck with it.

Two running backs, juniors T.J. Allison and Jaylen Nickerson, racked up more than 100 yards each and led the Wildcats to three touchdowns in the first, second, and third quarters. Kicker Brandon Nickle added a field goal in the fourth.

The 24-8 victory was an important district win for the Wildcats, who are now 6-0 overall and 4-0 in District 3-AAA. The only other undefeated team in the district is Anderson County (7-0, 6-0). The two teams will face off in the season finale on Thursday, October 30.

Oak Ridge came close to picking up its fourth shutout of the season on Friday night at Blankenship Field, preventing the Cougars, who had averaged 42 points per game, from scoring until late in the fourth quarter.

“Our defense played really well,” Gaddis said.

[Read more...]

Wildcats cross country teams finish in Top 3 in Chattanooga

Oak Ridge Wildcats Boys Varsity at McCallie Invitational

The Oak Ridge Wildcats boys varsity team finished first at the McCallie Invitational in Chattanooga on Saturday. (Photos by Nichole Zawiswa)

 

Four Oak Ridge Wildcats cross country teams finished in the Top 3 in 5k races in Chattanooga on Saturday.

The varsity boys team finished first in the McCallie Invitational, the varsity girls finished third on a tie-breaker, the junior varsity boys team finished second, and the junior varsity girls finished third.

It was the full team debut for the cross country teams, coach Allen Etheridge said. He said the McCallie Invitational selects the most elite teams they can get for a small field of 10-15 teams.

The Wildcats teams travel this weekend to Cary, North Carolina, for the Great American Cross Country Festival, which is one of the most competitive meets in the nation.

Results from Saturday’s races are available here. [Read more...]

Ruby Tuesday closes in Oak Ridge

Ruby Tuesday Oak Ridge

Ruby Tuesday in Oak Ridge announced in signs posted on its front doors that it has closed.

 

Ruby Tuesday Closed Sign

Signs posted on the two front doors at Ruby Tuesday on Tuesday night announce that the Oak Ridge restaurant has closed.

Note: This story was updated at 8:25 a.m. Oct. 1.

Ruby Tuesday in Oak Ridge has closed. The restaurant announced the closure in two signs posted on its front doors.

The signs invite diners to eat at other local Ruby Tuesday restaurants in Knoxville and Lenoir City.

The front doors of the Oak Ridge restaurant were locked Tuesday night, and a worker leaving the restaurant declined to comment. A Ruby Tuesday media representative wasn’t immediately available for comment Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. [Read more...]

Mall project clears critical hurdle Monday

Oak Ridge Village Area Rendering

 

Tim Sittema

Tim Sittema

Council, IDB approve TIF extension, grant, roadway work

The proposed redevelopment of the Oak Ridge mall cleared a critical hurdle on Monday when city officials agreed to extend a property tax agreement for the 59-acre project, authorize $2 million in roadway and other infrastructure work, and offer a $500,000 grant if some federal funding is not approved.

Officials described the proposed redevelopment, named Main Street Oak Ridge, as an $80 million project that could fill a “hole in the heart” of Oak Ridge, bring new retail life to the city’s downtown, and build a lasting legacy.

Monday’s moves were meant to reduce the risk for four local lenders that could combine to offer $13 million in loans to part of the redevelopment under a tax increment financing, or TIF, agreement. That incentive would use new property tax revenues generated at the mall site and 120 surrounding acres included in the TIF area to repay those loans. Officials said the loans could be repaid in 18 years, according to financial models.

David Bradshaw

David Bradshaw

But in two separate special meetings on Monday, the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board and Oak Ridge City Council agreed to extend the TIF term from 20 years to 30. That extra 10 years is meant to act as a “shock absorber” and help make sure that the banks are repaid if there is a “glitch” in the project that would push the repayment past the previously approved 20-year term, officials said.

“This is not a ‘home run’ project for us as financial institutions,” said David R. Bradshaw, Oak Ridge president of CapitalMark Bank and Trust, one of the financial institutions that could participate. But, he added, “It is the right thing to do for the community.” [Read more...]

ORHS evacuated after chemistry experiment sets off smoke detectors

Oak Ridge High School Chem Lab Evacuation

Oak Ridge High School students were briefly evacuated Tuesday morning after a chemistry lab experiment in LC212 set off smoke detectors. The students were let back in about 20 minutes after the 10:30 a.m. call.

 

Students at Oak Ridge High School were briefly evacuated Tuesday morning after a chemistry experiment set off smoke detectors, authorities said.

A small amount of zinc chloride and water created water vapor that set off the smoke detectors, which then shut chemistry lab hoods, Oak Ridge firefighters said. The Oak Ridge Fire Department manually opened the vents in the room (LC212) until the smoke detector system reset. Firefighters checked the air, making sure it was safe to breathe, Battalion Chief Jody Durham said.

There was no fire, no damage, and no injuries, firefighters said.

“No student was ever in any real danger,” Durham said.

[Read more...]

IDB, Council to consider longer tax agreement, road improvements for mall project

Main Street Oak Ridge Site Plan without Tenants

A Main Street Oak Ridge site plan from Tuesday, without tenants shown. (Submitted image)

 

Oak Ridge Village Area Rendering

In two special meetings today, local officials will consider adding another 10 years to a tax incentive agreement for the long-awaited redevelopment of the Oak Ridge mall, and they will also consider authorizing improvements to public infrastructure, including the rebuilding of three private roads: Main Street East, Main Street West, and Wilson Street.

The tax incentive is known as tax increment financing, or TIF. It would use new property tax revenues generated at the mall site, which will be renamed Main Street Oak Ridge, to help pay for development costs.

A 20-year, $13 million TIF and economic impact plan were approved by the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board, City Council, and Anderson County Commission in November, and by Tennessee officials in January.

But the IDB and City Council will now consider extending the TIF term to 30 years. The extension would also have to be approved by the Anderson County Commission and Tennessee officials. [Read more...]