Repairs needed, school system considers three options for Preschool

Oak Ridge Preschool and School Administration Building

The Oak Ridge Board of Education will consider three options for the Oak Ridge Schools Preschool on New York Avenue during a Monday night meeting. The building—which has lead paint that needs to be repaired, replaced, and painted, among other things—has to be renovated or vacated for the Head Start program to receive funding in the 2015-2016 school year.


It’s 70 years old and in need of repairs. Federal officials want it renovated or vacated by next year in order for the school system to continue to receive Head Start funding.

So, on Monday, the Oak Ridge Board of Education will consider what to do about the Oak Ridge Preschool, a building on New York Avenue that’s been on the repair wish list for years.

The school board will consider three options:

  • stay in the building and renovate it;
  • move the Preschool and its roughly 200 students to a different site, possibly by leasing space;
  • move the Preschool classes and split them up among the elementary schools.

There is one option that is not on the table, school officials said Thursday.

“We have no intention…of shutting down the Preschool in any form or fashion,” said Chris Marczak, Oak Ridge Schools assistant superintendent. [Read more...]


Spooktacular Event Friday at Children’s Museum

Children's Museum of Oak Ridge

To celebrate Halloween, the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge will host a Not-So-Scary Spooktacular Event from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, October 31. Young visitors are invited to create their own trick-or-treat bags before visiting the exhibits. Activities are free with admission.

Among events at the museum will be:

  • Trick or treat bag decorating, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Great Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Spider Swamp Maze, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Ghost Bubbles in the Garden, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Flashlight Rainforest Walk, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Spooky Story Time, 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
  • Crazy Costume Parade, 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
  • Mad Scientist Lab, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Glowing Tunnel, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

[Read more...]


Spotlight: Rotary leads fight against polio

‘We are this close to ending polio’

Rotary International, which includes some 1.3 million members in 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries around the world, celebrated October 24 as World Polio Day.

Since 1985, Rotary has led the battle against polio, as worldwide cases plummeted from 350,000 per year to several hundred—a 99 percent reduction.

“This is a source of pride to Rotarians everywhere,” says District Governor Jerry Wear of Rotary District 6780, which includes East Tennessee. “In our relentless fundraising efforts and our participation in inoculation days around the world, Rotarians are committed to carrying this important mission to completion.”

Today, polio is endemic in only three countries—Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. When India came off that list in 2012, it was an important step toward eradicating a human disease from the earth for only the second time in history. (The first disease so eradicated was smallpox.) [Read more...]

NNSA achieves 50 percent production for W76-1 units

Frank Klotz

Frank Klotz

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Nuclear Security Administration said last week that it had reached the halfway point in the production phase of the W76-1 warhead Life Extension Program, or LEP. An event held at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, underscored NNSA’s commitment to meeting the U.S. Navy’s requirements for the W76-1.

Gen. Frank G. Klotz, U.S. Department of Energy under secretary for nuclear security and NNSA administrator, was on hand to personally thank the men and women of Pantex who helped achieve the production milestone.

“The W76-1 Life Extension Program is one of several steps we must take as a nation to ensure that America’s smaller nuclear arsenal remains safe, secure, and effective,” Klotz said. “The highly skilled Pantex team will continue to play an indispensable role in protecting the security of the United States, as well as our allies and partners, for many years to come. For that reason, it’s imperative that we continue to invest in the people and in the infrastructure needed to carry out that important, enduring task.” [Read more...]

Roane State’s Fain sets record for female living underwater

Jessica Fain

Jessica Fain

As Roane State Community College educators Jessica Fain and Bruce Cantrell pursue a world record for longest time spent living underwater, Fain has already made her mark.

Cantrell, a biology professor, and Fain, an adjunct professor, are living and working in an underwater habitat—Jules’ Undersea Lodge on Key Largo in the Florida Keys—for 73 days.

Cantrell, an expert in the history of underwater habitats, noted that Fain has set the record for a female living underwater. The previous mark was 14 days, set in 1970 by renowned scientist Sylvia Earle and her team during their stay in the Tektite habitat. The Tektite program was the first nationally sponsored effort to place scientists in the sea to live.

As of Saturday, October 18, Fain and Cantrell had lived continuously underwater for 15 days. [Read more...]

ORNL technology transfer continues strong upward trend

Mike Paulus Technology Transfer

Mike Paulus, director of Technology Transfer, says initiatives like SPARK! have been effective at connecting entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts with ORNL technologies and capabilities. (Submitted photo)


New methods are improving connections between private businesses and technology from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with 101 licenses and options executed during the last three years.

Mike Paulus, director of Technology Transfer, attributes the growth in large part to the Technology Innovation Program, Bridging the Gap, and SPARK! These programs helped the lab double the number of licenses for the fiscal years 2012-2014 compared to 2009-2011, and Paulus expects a new initiative, the Invention to Innovation Webinar Series, to help maintain the upward trend.

“We have a talented staff that has worked very hard to identify, develop, and market high-potential technologies that provide the best opportunities to licensees,” Paulus said. “Our two-pronged approach focuses on increasing the overall deal volume while at the same time concentrating on our most promising technologies.” [Read more...]

Oak Ridge Cedar Barren cleanup on Nov. 8

Oak Ridge Cedar Barren Cleanup

The Oak Ridge Cedar Barren will undergo its annual fall cleanup at 9 a.m. Saturday, November 8.  The main cleanup activity consists of exotic invasive plant removal.

Located next to Jefferson Middle School in Oak Ridge, the area is one of only a few cedar barrens in East Tennessee.

The barren is subject to invasion by Chinese lespedeza, leatherleaf viburnum, Chinese privet, autumn olive, mimosa, Nepal grass, multiflora rose, and woody plants. These plants, if allowed to mature, will shade out or overgrow the system’s unique prairie grasses. [Read more...]

November events in Anderson County

Submitted by Anderson County Tourism Council

Here are upcoming events in November in Anderson County:

November Train Rides at Secret City Excursion Train

One-hour excursions with narration will take place on Saturday and Sunday, November 1 and 2.  The excursions depart at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday. During the ride, passengers will hear the story of the Manhattan Project, which was one of the most remarkable industrial achievements ever accomplished. For more information, call (865) 241-2140 or visit [Read more...]

Chamber Seminar Series: Protect your small business from fraud

Jason Mooney

Jason Mooney

A November 5 seminar at the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce will feature a seminar on small business and fraud.

The seminar by Jason Mooney of Regions Bank will be titled “Protect Your Small Business from Fraud.” It’s scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, November 5, at the Chamber office.

“Financial loss due to fraud is something that companies are experiencing more and more,” a press release said. “This seminar is geared to help business owners spot and mitigate the risk of potential financial loss due to fraudulent activity. This course will go over the different types of fraud that occur, as well as go over steps that can help prevent these different types of fraud from occurring. Actual fraud cases and the lessons learned will be reviewed during this informative seminar.” [Read more...]

AC Chamber Council starts discussions on educational resources, workforce needs

Randy Boyd

Randy Boyd


CLINTON—Leaders from business, local, and post-secondary education across Anderson County gathered at the Hollingsworth Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership on Tuesday for an Anderson County Workforce Development Training Resources Luncheon hosted by the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce Education and Workforce Development Council. The council plans for this to be the first of a series of in-depth county-wide discussions about how to ensure that our educational resources are focused at meeting the businesses workforce needs in Anderson County.

Randy Boyd, Governor Bill Haslam’s special adviser on higher education, spoke about Tennessee’s “Drive to 55” initiative and the five main aspects to this statewide initiative: get students ready, get them into school, get them out of school, finish what we started with adult students, and tie education directly to workforce needs.

“There are nearly a million Tennesseans that have some college credit but no degree—that’s an untapped pool of people that we can get to complete a certificate or degree,” Boyd said. [Read more...]

Follow-up: ORPD investigating suspicious ATM device that could be card ‘skimmer’

Oak Ridge Police Department Logo

A suspicious device found on an ATM machine on Sunday could be a “skimmer,” and detectives are working with bank officials to determine if any debit or credit cards were compromised, the Oak Ridge Police Department said Wednesday.

A customer found the suspicious device on Sunday at the SunTrust Bank at 1188 Oak Ridge Turnpike, the ORPD said in a press release.

Police think it was a debit or credit card “skimmer.” A “skimmer” is a small device that is usually placed over the card slot of ATMs and gas pumps to steal debit/credit card information. “Skimmers” are sometimes accompanied by small cameras or keypad covers to steal PIN numbers associated with the cards. [Read more...]

Council approves $1 million contract for Jackson Square parking lot project

Jackson Square Plaza Improvements Map

Note: This story was updated at 11:35 a.m. Oct. 29.

The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday awarded a $1 million contract for a project funded with help from a state grant to rebuild the Jackson Square parking lot area.

The contract was awarded to Rich Construction Inc. of Lenoir City. Oak Ridge officials will have a pre-construction conference in 10 days, and they are hopeful that work will start in late November, City Manager Mark Watson said.

He said the project could take 180 days, or about six months. That means it would be done before the Lavender Festival in 2015.

The work will include a landscaped pedestrian plaza with parking, an interactive fountain, stone pavers, curbing, asphalt paving, utilities, benches, sidewalks, and upgrades under the American with Disabilities Act. There will a slight increase in the number of parking spaces. [Read more...]