Free franchising workshop for veterans on Wednesday

Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce

The Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce is pictured above.

The Tennessee Small Business Development Center, in partnership with FranNet, will offer a free workshop on franchising for veterans on Wednesday.

The seminar is titled “Veterans and Franchising: A Perfect Fit!” It’s scheduled from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce at 1400 Oak Ridge Turnpike.

This workshop will discuss misconceptions about franchising, as well as programs and incentives available to veterans, a press release said. [Read more...]

Curves of Oak Ridge helps fill pantries at MMC Hospitality Houses

Curves Food Donation to MMC Hospitality House

Kim Maes, left, Hospitality House coordinator, and Misti Binkley, owner, Curves of Oak Ridge, stand among the three large shopping carts filled with food and household goods donated to Methodist Medical Center’s Hospitality Houses by members of the Curves gym. (Submitted photo)

The Hospitality Houses at Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge received a weighty donation from Curves in Oak Ridge, a gym facility exclusively for women. Members collected and donated about 900 pounds of groceries and household goods to help stock the pantries at Methodist’s two Hospitality Houses—the Manly House and CALM House— which provide free lodging for patients and their families who must travel to Methodist for their cancer treatment.

The effort to collect goods for the Hospitality Houses was part of a Curves’ community food drive, which allowed members to make a donation in lieu of a down payment for their gym membership.

“Women come here because they want to take care of themselves,” said Curves of Oak Ridge owner and collection organizer Misti Binkley. “The food drive membership promotion is a way they can take care of others at the same time.” [Read more...]

EnergySolutions contributes $50K to Habitat over five years


When building houses for those in need, Habitat for Humanity seeks volunteers, supplies, and monetary donations. In an effort to help the organization achieve its goals, EnergySolutions contributed $50,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County over a period of five years to support housing developments in both Oak Ridge and Clinton, and the company also assisted the organization with transporting much-needed supplies to the community.

Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County is an ecumenical ministry founded in 1992 that builds simple, decent, and affordable houses with participating families, and works with diverse individuals, organizations, and faith communities to serve others. Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County accepts monetary donations, as well as ink cartridges, cell phones, aluminum cans, and even vehicles to recycle, and the Habitat ReStore accepts gently used household items, furniture, appliances, and even building materials to resell. [Read more...]

USEC centrifuge agreement extended, but future uncertain as workers receive WARN notices

Centrifuge Machine Manufacturing

In Oak Ridge, USEC workers take part in centrifuge operations, testing, and manufacturing for the American Centrifuge Project. (Photos courtesy USEC)

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

The American Centrifuge Project, a program that would enrich uranium for commercial nuclear power plants and has operations in Oak Ridge, got a little extra time this week.

Several billions have already been spent and funding was set to expire April 15, but USEC announced Tuesday morning that the research, development, and demonstration agreement was extended through April 30. That was done at no additional cost to the taxpayer through “prudent management of existing program funds by USEC,” the company said in a press release.

In the meantime, USEC said it continues its discussions with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which could take over the management of the project for national security purposes. The DOE takeover was announced by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing earlier this month.

The future of the project is not clear and several hundred workers have received notices that they could be laid off. On Friday, USEC Inc. spokesperson Paul Jacobson said the 60-day notices, which were effective March 19, were sent to 174 USEC employees in the Oak Ridge area and a total of 400 workers. Most of the other workers are in Piketon, Ohio, but there are also a few at USEC headquarters in Bethseda, Md. [Read more...]

Children’s Museum hosts Young Child Celebration on April 11

Backwoods Rambling Puppets

Wood and Strings Theatre will bring the rich folklore and toe-tapping tunes of the Appalachian Mountains to life with a puppet performance of “Backwoods Ramblin’” on Friday, April 11, for the Celebration of the Young Child at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge.

The celebration, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., will be a tribute to Selma Shapiro, who led the museum for 32 years before her retirement at age 80 in 2004. She expanded the museum from a group of small exhibits established by Girl Scouts into a nationally recognized regional center of learning and play, and continued to volunteer at the museum until her death in 2011.

Wood and Strings Theatre’s marionettes play fiddles, smoke corn cob pipes, dance jigs, and sing mountain tunes as they take the audience to the front porch of storyteller Grandpa Will’s cabin. He spins tall tales based on “Jack Tales,” authentic Appalachian folk tales compiled by Richard Chase. Grandpa Will’s family, friends, and hound dog all join in the lively entertainment. [Read more...]

Farmers Markets to open this weekend in Knoxville, Oak Ridge

Farmers Market

The longest continuous operating farmers markets in East Tennessee will open for the season on Friday, April 11, in Knoxville, and Saturday, April 12, in Oak Ridge. The second Knoxville market location will open on Wednesday, April 16. 

“After a long winter, it’s always a welcome sign of spring when the farmers markets open and we see the first of the spring harvest coming in,” said Steve Colvin, president of the East Tennessee Farmers Association for Retail Marketing, or FARM. “We’re hoping the final cold snaps won’t take too much of a toll on the early crops.”

FARM operates markets on Fridays from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Laurel Church of Christ, 3457 Kingston Pike at Cherokee Boulevard. On Wednesdays, the FARM Market operates at Ebenezer United Methodist Church, 1001 Ebenezer Road near Westland Avenue. The Saturday market is held from 8 a.m. until noon in the parking lot adjacent to historic Jackson Square in Oak Ridge. [Read more...]

Senate approves Lake City’s name change to Rocky Top

Lake City Council Approves Rocky Top Name Change

The Lake City Council votes 4-0 in November to change the town’s name to Rocky Top, and Rep. John Ragan said he had draft legislation to approve the name change to introduce in the Tennessee General Assembly. (File photo)

WYSH Radio/Oak Ridge Today

A bill that will allow Lake City to officially change its name to Rocky Top was unanimously approved in the Tennessee Senate on Thursday, three days after the state House of Representatives also unanimously voted to support the measure.

Lake City Council members approved the name change, seen as a vital first step toward developing a Rocky Top theme park in the former coal mining town, in November. The bill will now go to Gov. Bill Halslam’s desk for his signature, then the Lake City Council must ratify it by a two-thirds majority.

The name change is seen as a necessary first step toward turning the former coal mining town into a tourist destination, taking advantage of its two exits off of I-75. Plans call for an interactive 3-D theater, a restaurant, a water park and a hotel, as well as other attractions. [Read more...]

ORHS students work on branding, design ideas with mall redevelopment company

ORHS Students Work on Mall Redevelopment

Standing from left to right are Buddy McWilliams, Payne Adkins, Abigail Clanton, and Chris Giese. Seated from left to right are Wesley Robinson and Alex Tavangaran. (Photo courtesy J. Clint LaFollette)


For three classes at Oak Ridge High School, the future of the old Oak Ridge Mall property is something the students are taking personally. Nearly 60 students in the Digital Arts and Design and Virtual Enterprise classes have been working on a branding strategy for the once-thriving retail site, and their top ideas will be presented to Crosland Southeast, the Charlotte-based firm that has been working with the City of Oak Ridge to develop a plan to establish a multi-use work-live-play-shop destination.

“It has been an exciting project to work on, because there have been several attempts to revitalize this property, and all have failed due to, among other things, the lack of focus on the specific interest of Oak Ridge residents,” said Buddy McWilliams, an ORHS senior who is working on the project. “Crosland Southeast has shown that they want to be successful by looking at the interest of students and others who will be using the property.”

Crosland Southeast approached Oak Ridge School Board Chairman Keys Fillauer with the idea to work with the students, and an enthusiastic Fillauer discussed it with ORHS Principal David Bryant and teachers Linda Ousley and Clint Lafollette, and the project was off and running.

Ousley is the facilitator of the school’s Virtual Enterprise program. Ousley said that Crosland Southeast will get a good cross-section of Oak Ridge opinion by talking with the students, and the students are getting excellent experience they can use on their future resumes. [Read more...]

Spotlight: Leadership Anderson County visits state government in Nashville

Leadership Anderson County Nashville Trip

The Leadership Anderson County Class of
2014 recently visited Nashville on a state government trip.
Rep. John Ragan, Sen. Randy McNally, and Rep. Dennis Powers are also in the photo with the class. (Submitted photo)

Leadership Anderson County Class of 2014, a program of the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce, and members of the Leadership Anderson County board of directors, visited Nashville for their state government trip in March.

The class, shown at left with Rep. John Ragan, Sen. Randy McNally, and Rep. Dennis Powers, participated in a mock session, visited the Tennessee Fusion Center, toured the Capitol and Supreme Court, and met with Comptroller Justin P. Wilson and Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 class. For more information, contact the Chamber at (865) 457-2559 or visit

Mortgage originator Yvonne Cummings moves to CapitalMark

CapitalMark Bank and Trust has added Yvonne Cummings as a mortgage loan originator in the Knoxville and Oak Ridge markets, a press release said.

Cummings is a 16-year veteran mortgage loan officer and consultant who most recently worked with a regional financial institution. She has earned corporate recognition from previous employers as a top producer and customer loyalty expert, the press release said.

Cummings received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a minor in economics from Methodist University in Fayetteville, Tenn. She received a master’s in computer science and management of information systems from Webster University. [Read more...]

Featured at Obama speech, Sleek SuperTruck saves fuel, money

David Koeberlein SuperTruck Cummins Engine

David Koeberlein, director of advanced engineering for Cummins and principal investigator on the SuperTruck project, says the prototype tractor-trailer uses exhaust heat that would otherwise be wasted to help power the crankshaft. (All photos courtesy ORNL/Genevieve Martin unless indicated otherwise)

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

Tractor-trailer prototype uses probe developed by ORNL for better gas mileage, cleaner exhaust

It’s a sleek, aerodynamic freight-hauling machine. With its wide tires, rounded edges, and body parts that hug the ground, this million-dollar prototype looks like it could be at home on a race track.

It’s already achieved celebrity status, serving as the backdrop for President Barack Obama during a February speech on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards.

But the SuperTruck is more likely to end up hauling meat and potatoes from Boise to Boston.

SuperTruck at ORNL

The fuel-efficient SuperTruck, the result of a four-year collaboration between the trucking industry and the federal government, made a pit stop at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Tuesday.

Still, researchers have reason to celebrate. On Tuesday, they said the high-tech tractor-trailer has increased fuel efficiency by 75 percent. Fully loaded, the SuperTruck can drive 10.7 miles on a gallon of gas. That compares to an industry average of 5.8 to 6.5 miles per gallon.

“This is a really big deal,” said Claus Daniel, deputy director of sustainable transportation projects at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where the SuperTruck made a pit stop on Tuesday.

It’s the result of a collaboration between the trucking industry and the U.S. Department of Energy. It’s not clear how soon the new technologies tested in the Cummins/Peterbilt tractor-trailer, which was built in Denton, Texas, will show up on the nation’s highways. [Read more...]

Anderson Chamber offers business counseling

The Tennessee Small Business Development Center advises and assists future and existing business owners.

Jutta Bangs, senior business specialist, is available for free and confidential counseling sessions on Thursday, April 16, from 9–11 a.m. at the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce at 245 N. Main Street, Ste. 200, in Clinton.

To make an appointment for this, or another day, please call (865) 457-2559 or email [email protected].

To learn more about the TSBDC, visit