School board candidates field questions on technology, tax increases

Oak Ridge Board of Education Forum

A. Paige Marshall, left, one of eight candidates for the Oak Ridge School Board, answers a question during the League of Women Voters’ Candidate Forum Wednesday night. To her right are candidates Mike Mahathy, Andrew Howe, Jean Hiser, and incumbent Bob Eby, with WUOT radio host Matt Shafer Powell, who posed the questions. (Photo by Rebecca D. Williams)


Fielding public school questions about technology, tax increases, and the teaching of science versus religion, eight candidates for the Oak Ridge School Board tried to distinguish themselves from one another Wednesday night at the League of Women Voters’ Candidate Forum held at the Oak Ridge High School Amphitheater, to a crowd of about 150.

Board candidates offered largely similar answers, with the greatest difference of opinion posed by Aaron Wells. He spoke against school tax increases and one-to-one technology in schools.

“The biggest impact on me growing up was when my teachers gave me one-to-one education,” Wells said. “How many hours a day are kids staring at a screen? It’s too many. We need to do more with less, because money’s tight. We’ve got to get back to the basics.”

Also participating in the forum were two candidates who are opposing incumbent Chuck Fleischmann, a Republican, for the District 3 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mary M. Headrick, a Democrat, and Cassandra J. Mitchell, an Independent, answered questions. Fleischmann was not present.

Also, Tennessee House Representative for District 32, Kent Calfee, the Republican incumbent, and Joe Kneiser, his Democratic opponent, fielded questions about four referendum questions on the ballot Nov. 4.

Three seats on the five-member Oak Ridge Board of Education are open. Bob Eby is the only incumbent running for re-election. Other candidates include Jean Hiser, Andrew Howe, Mike Mahathy, A. Paige Marshall, Laura McLean, Laurie Paine, and Wells. [Read more...]

High school seniors can sign up for Tennessee Promise at RSCC on Saturday

Tennessee Promise Logo

High school seniors can sign up for the Tennessee Promise and fill out their college application as part of Scholarship Saturday on September 20 at Roane State Community College’s Oak Ridge campus.

Computer labs in the new Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building will be open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and enrollment counselors will be available to help seniors complete their Tennessee Promise applications and college applications.

Pizza will be provided. The campus is located at 701 Briarcliff Avenue.

The event is designed to encourage students to enroll in Tennessee Promise, the state’s new program that provides two years of community college or technical school tuition-free for any student graduating from a Tennessee high school.

The deadline to apply for the Tennessee Promise is Nov. 1. [Read more...]

Street painting festival needs artists, sponsors

2013 Oak Ridge Street Painting Festival

Winning chalk painting from the 2013 Oak Ridge Street Painting Festival. (Submitted photo)


Artists of all ages will “paint” sidewalk squares with chalk after community supporters “buy” squares by writing checks. In these ways, the 15th annual Oak Ridge Street Painting Festival can be a big fundraising success, organizers say.

In addition, participants in this event can help improve East Tennessee’s economy by giving students the chance to learn valuable technical skills that companies require.

Artists and sponsors are needed for the 15th annual Oak Ridge Street Painting Festival. It will be held Saturday, October 4 (the rain day is on Sunday, Oct. 5), at the Oak Ridge Branch Campus of Roane State Community College, 701 Briarcliff Avenue.

The purpose of the festival, organized and sponsored by the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge, is to raise funds for scholarships for Roane State students. The festival is also a competition for the artists; first-prize winners in a variety of categories and the People’s Choice award winner will get $50 cash awards. [Read more...]

ABA re-approves Roane State’s paralegal studies program

The American Bar Association House of Delegates has re-approved the Roane State Community College Paralegal Studies program.

The re-approval successfully concludes a two-year self-evaluation of the program by the college.

“I am pleased that the ABA has re-approved our program,” said Ken Yager, director of the program. “Re-approval is a designation signifying the college’s adherence to the highest academic standards and ABA requirements. Graduates of our program are fully prepared to enter the workforce.”

The paralegal studies program, which consistently has a 100 percent job placement rate, was first approved by the ABA in 2005. The ABA reapproval lasts through August 2019. [Read more...]

New RSCC-ORICL lecture series opens with Thursday talk on Lincoln

James L. "Jamie" Cotton Jr.

James L. “Jamie” Cotton Jr.

Roane State Community College and the Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning are jointly launching a free intergenerational lecture series open to the public.

James L. “Jamie” Cotton Jr., author of the book “The Greatest Speech, Ever: The Remarkable Story of Abraham Lincoln and His Gettysburg Address,” will give the first lecture in the inaugural series at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in the lecture room in the new Goff Health Sciences and Technology building on RSCC’s Oak Ridge campus.

The lecture, titled “Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: The Greatest Speech, Ever” will be preceded by refreshments at 3 p.m in the new building’s lobby. It will be followed at 4:30 p.m. by an optional tour of the Goff Health Sciences and Technology building.

The lecturers selected will appeal to multiple generations, including Roane State students and the more than 400 retirees who take ORICL classes in RSCC’s Coffey-McNally building on the Oak Ridge campus off Briarcliff Avenue.

ORICL will supplement RSCC’s budget for a lecture series with funds from the John Million Bequest made to ORICL two years ago.

The opening lecture will take the place of ORICL’s fall kick-off. Catalogs and forms will be available for those wishing to register for classes for ORICL’s fall semester, which begins Sept. 22.

Judge Cotton has served as judge for the General Sessions court in Scott County since 1990. He received the Tennessee Award of Merit for his work in the prevention of teenage substance abuse and the Tennessee Medical Association Community Service Award for his leadership in the prevention of domestic violence.

He is a member of the adjunct faculty of Roane State Community College, where he lectures on Lincoln and the law. Judge Cotton is donating profits from all direct sales of his book to two charities—Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for children and the Scott County Christian Care Center.

The late Howard H. Baker Jr.—U.S. senator from Tennessee, chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan and ambassador to Japan—wrote these words in a preface in the book: “Judge Cotton’s book is not only a fascinating and scholarly assessment of the Gettysburg Address and its impact on America but also an absorbing look into Abraham Lincoln’s life—this is a must read for anyone interested in America’s history.”

Thomas Mackie, director of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, wrote that the book “demonstrates that Lincoln’s mythic Gettysburg Address continues to be required reading for American citizenship. We are reminded that this very brief but well-crafted speech defines our ideals and national purpose.”

UT engineering students help ORNL, Local Motors print drivable 3D car

3D Car

John Rogers, co-founder and CEO of Local Motors, left, and Douglas Woods, president of the Association for Manufacturing Technology, drive away from the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago over the weekend in a car printed with the help of UT students. (Photo courtesy UT)


KNOXVILLE—The only “car” that most people associate with printers is a “car-tridge” of ink, but that may soon change thanks in part to several students at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

UT, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Local Motors, Cincinnati Incorporated, and Oak Ridge Associated Universities teamed up to print a working, drivable car over the weekend at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago.

The Strati 3D, officially produced by Local Motors, which has an office on Market Square in Knoxville, highlighted the show and placed what sounds like a product of science fiction firmly in the realm of reality.

“This brand-new process disrupts the manufacturing status quo,” said John B. Rogers Jr., chief executive officer of Local Motors. “It changes the consumer experience and proves that a car can be born in an entirely different way.” [Read more...]

Forum to feature candidates for school board, TN House, Congress

Vote Logo

A Wednesday evening forum will feature candidates for Oak Ridge Board of Education, U.S. Congressional District 3, and Tennessee House District 32.

The forum starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Oak Ridge High School Amphitheater at 1450 Oak Ridge Turnpike. It’s been organized by the League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge.

Candidates for Oak Ridge Board of Education have been invited to speak and answer questions. They include  incumbent Bob Eby and seven other candidates: Jean Hiser, Andrew Howe, Mike Mahathy, A. Paige Marshall, Laura McLean, Laurie Paine, and Aaron Wells.

There are three school board seats available in the November 4 municipal election. Eby is the only incumbent seeking re-election; Dan DiGregorio and Jenny Richter are not.

Candidates with opposition in the state and federal general election have also been invited to speak and answer questions. In the U.S. House, Republican Representative Chuck Fleischmann of District 3, which includes Oak Ridge, faces challenges from Democrat Mary M. Headrick, who also ran two years ago, and Independent Cassandra J. Mitchell. [Read more...]

Lunch with League: tnAchieves paves path to higher education

Graham Thomas

Graham Thomas

Graham Thomas, tnAchieves director of community partnerships, will be the guest speaker at Lunch with the League at noon Tuesday, September 16, in the Social Hall of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, located at 1500 Oak Ridge Turnpike.

tnAchieves, a partnering organization to Governor Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise, serves primarily first-generation, low-income students in an effort to increase this population’s likelihood of earning a college credential. While the funding provided by Tennessee Promise is critical to increased post-secondary access, tnAchieves data confirms that working with a mentor further enhances a student’s likelihood of entering the post-secondary pipeline, a press release said. In fact, the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research found that students participating with tnAchieves are nearly 21 percent more likely to enter college. [Read more...]

Gov. Haslam, Bredesen to discuss Amendment 2 at UT on Wednesday

Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and former Governor Phil Bredesen will discuss a constitutional amendment that could affect the judicial system during a Wednesday celebration of Constitution Day at the University of Tennessee.

Amendment 2 to the Tennessee Constitution will be on the ballot in November. It proposes new checks and balances to the governor’s appointment of Supreme Court and intermediate appellate court judges. It also protects the rights of Tennesseans to vote to retain or replace those judges in retention elections, UT said in a press release.

Haslam and Bredesen will discuss the amendment at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Toyota Auditorium of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. The discussion will be moderated by Doug Blaze, dean of UT’s College of Law.

It’s part of the Baker Center’s celebration of Constitution Day on Wednesday. Free and open to the public, the day’s events will also include: [Read more...]

UT’s Medal of Honor involvement very special for grad student and her dad

Peter and Laura Lemon at Medal of Honor Convention

Medal of Honor recipient Peter Lemon, on the right, sits next to his daughter, Laura Lemon, a University of Tennessee doctoral student. They are surrounded by UT public relations students, some of whom are in Laura Lemon’s class. (Photos courtesy UT)


KNOXVILLE—Graduate teaching associate Laura Lemon found herself in an interesting spot at last week’s Medal of Honor Town Hall at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

On one side of her sat her public relations students, eagerly taking notes to write a press release about the event. On the other side sat her father, Medal of Honor recipient Peter Lemon.

A doctoral student, Laura Lemon said her involvement with UT’s Medal of Honor Project began last year when she went to Assistant Professor Nick Geidner’s office for help in one of his classes that she was taking.

Geidner directs the Medal of Honor Project, which is an award-winning service-learning collaboration between UT’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media and the 2014 Medal of Honor Convention, held last week in Knoxville. (It included a Town Hall Forum in Oak Ridge on Friday.) Through the project, students produced written, audio, and video pieces related to the convention. Although the convention is over, the project will continue sharing stories about Medal of Honor recipients and become a model for other universities that want to partner with future conventions. [Read more...]

DOE program funds alloy research led by UT; ORNL collaborates

Haixuan Xu

Haixuan Xu

KNOXVILLE—An international research team led by an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville has received a grant to help with work involving a key component of nuclear reactors.

The U.S. Department of Energy grant is worth $800,000 over three years, and it has been awarded to UT Assistant Professor Haixuan Xu. It’s part of the Nuclear Energy University Programs funding and will be used to work on a pair of particular steel alloys, a press release said.

“Getting support on this will allow us to investigate and understand the defect evolution in these materials,” said Xu, of the UT Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “What we hope to gain is fundamental insight into the effects of radiation on the alloys so that we can better predict and detect how they will break down over time and adjust the materials accordingly.”

The alloys in question would be used in sodium-cooled reactors. Xu’s research is important because little is known about how the materials stand up to high levels of radiation over time. [Read more...]

Retired teacher, community volunteer running for school board

Jean Hiser

Jean Hiser

Retired educator and community volunteer Jean Hiser has announced her candidacy for the Oak Ridge Board of Education in the November 4 municipal election, a press release said.

Hiser moved to Oak Ridge five years ago from Cumberland County, where she taught third grade at Crab Orchard Elementary School for 11 years.

Prior to moving to Tennessee, she had served as a substitute special education teacher in the Wheaton school system in Wheaton, Illinois.

A native of Elderon, a small farming community in Wisconsin, Hiser dreamed of going to college in order to make a better life for herself. She attended college for 3.5 years but was forced to leave school due to lack of funds.

After getting married and raising a son, Hiser returned to college and obtained a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at the age of 45 from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enrolled in college on the same day her son enrolled in community college. [Read more...]