Halsam names Candice McQueen education commissioner

Candice McQueen

Candice McQueen

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced Wednesday that Candice McQueen, a teacher and dean at Lipscomb University in Nashville, will be the next commissioner of the Department of Education.

McQueen, 40, now serves on Lipscomb University’s executive leadership team as senior vice president, and as dean, she oversees the College of Education as well as the 1,300 pre-k through 12th grade students in three schools at Lipscomb Academy, a press release said. She has led training, support, and professional development efforts for thousands of current and future classroom teachers, instructional coaches, and school leaders.

Before joining Lipscomb in 2001, McQueen was a teacher in elementary and middle schools.

“Lipscomb’s College of Education produces some of our state’s best teachers, and Candice gets a lot of credit for that,” Haslam said. “She has taught in a classroom, so she brings both the experience of being a teacher and of preparing teachers to teach. I am grateful for her willingness to serve in this role, and I know she’ll do a great job as we continue our efforts to provide a quality education for all Tennessee students.” [Read more…]

Y-12, UT sign agreement to continue, expand collaborative work

Y-12 and UT MOU Signing

UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek, left, and CNS President and CEO Jim Haynes sign a Memorandum of Understanding to expand collaboration between the university and CNS. Joining them for the signing are Taylor Eighmy, UT Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, and Tom Berg, CNS Director of Technology Development and Technology Transfer, right. (Photo by Brett Pate)



Partnership combines strengths to train future workforce, solve national challenges

A memorandum of understanding signed Thursday by Consolidated Nuclear Security and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville will expand collaborations while making the country safer and more secure. CNS and the university collaborate in areas ranging from joint research to analyzing business operations and pushing more technologies into the private sector.

The partnership between the university and the Y-12 National Security Complex, which began in 2011, combines the leading research talents of the university with Y-12’s successful track record in technology development and application that bolsters national security. Through CNS, the agreement now also incorporates the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas.

CNS manages and operates Y-12 and the Pantex Plant for the National Nuclear Security Administration. [Read more…]

BOE, City Council to tour possible new preschool building

161 Mitchell Road

The Oak Ridge Board of Education and City Council will tour this building at 161 Mitchell Road on Thursday afternoon. It’s a possible new home for the Oak Ridge Preschool.


Note: This story was last updated at 8 p.m.

The Oak Ridge Board of Education and City Council will tour a building on Mitchell Road on Thursday afternoon that could be a new home for the Preschool.

Built as a temporary building, the current Preschool on New York Avenue is 70 years old and in need of repairs.

A new School Administration Building and Preschool has been on the city’s wish list for years. But now education officials say the Preschool has to be renovated or vacated by next year in order for the school system to continue to receive federal Head Start funding.

They’ve recommended a long-term lease for the Preschool, with an option to purchase. Oak Ridge Schools has also recommended buying the Chamber of Commerce building for a new School Administration Building and remodeling the G Building at Oak Ridge High School to accommodate administration support services, a “better defined” Alternative School program, and the ROTC program. [Read more…]

Roane State educators complete record-breaking 73-day underwater stay

Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain Surface

Roane State professors Jessica Fain and Bruce Cantrell enjoy their first moments of sunlight after living underwater for 73 days. (Photos by Roane State Community College) 


KEY LARGO, Florida—After a record-breaking 73 days living underwater, two local college professors surfaced Monday and enjoyed the feel of sunlight for the first time in more than two months.

They also celebrated the end of their mission to educate the public about ocean conservation, to inspire young people’s interest in science, and to make history.

Biology professor Bruce Cantrell and adjunct professor Jessica Fain from Roane State Community College in East Tennessee spent the fall living and working in Jules’ Undersea Lodge, an underwater habitat on Key Largo in Florida. Their underwater stay lasted 73 days, two hours, and 34 minutes, breaking the world record for longest time spent living underwater.

The two educators submerged October 3 at 12:08 p.m. EDT and surfaced on Monday, December 15, at 1:42 p.m. EST.

“There is a sun,” Cantrell said with a laugh as he and Fain broke the surface of the water. [Read more…]

Remembered as a model community volunteer, Myrick died Sunday

Tim and Teresa Myrick with ADFAC Bow Tie Award

Tim Myrick, left, received the 2014 Bill Wilcox Bow Tie Award from ADFAC on Oct. 30. Pictured with Myrick at Y-12’s New Hope Center is his wife Teresa. (Photo courtesy ADFAC)

Note: This story was last updated at 3:30 p.m.

Tim Myrick, one of the area’s most active community volunteers, died Sunday morning. He was at home with his wife Teresa by his side.

Friends are remembering him as a model community leader and volunteer. Myrick, who had been battling prostate cancer, had provided decades of service to the church and to Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties, or ADFAC, as well as to Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County. He played a key role in the renovation of Oak Ridge High School and modernization work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In 2012, he and Teresa pledged $25,000 to the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation’s “Making the Critical Difference” campaign for grants and scholarships.

“We sure lost a strong advocate for our community,” said friend D. Ray Smith, who serves on both the ADFAC and Habitat for Humanity boards. [Read more…]

Letter: Supports schools’ proposal for Preschool, Administration building

To the Editor:

Kudos to Dr. Bruce Borchers and the school staff for the creative and practical fresh look and proposal for resolving the dilemma of our 71-year-old pre-K and Administration building. I believe this solution is fiscally far more attractive and feasible than any alternatives that were suggested in the past. At this point, I am soundly behind it.

Kudos too, to Parker Hardy and the Chamber for being willing to discuss the possibility of letting their building be part of the plan. [Read more…]

Mason, Coffey receive 2014 Muddy Boot Awards

Thom Mason and David Coffey

Thom Mason, left, and David Coffey, right (Photo courtesy East Tennessee Economic Council)


Two titans of East Tennessee’s business community were honored Friday with the Muddy Boot Award, given by the East Tennessee Economic Council in an ongoing tribute to individuals who through their work and activities build a better community.

This year’s honorees were Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and leader of other  state and local organizations, and David Coffey, a serial entrepreneur, past member of the Tennessee General Assembly, and a leader in promoting better education in the state.

ETEC also presented two Postma Young Professional Medals. Betsy Prine, a vice president of Gilmartin Engineering Services, and Cortney Piper, principal of Piper Communications, received the medals. The Economic Council’s annual celebratory event was keynoted by Tennessee Commissioner of Finance and Administration Larry Martin. University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro and Pete Craven also participated, with the event chaired by Bonnie Carroll of Information International Associates. [Read more…]

Apply for literacy grants from Altrusa, Breakfast Rotary by Dec. 31

There is a December 31 deadline for grant applications for work that will improve literacy in Oak Ridge and Anderson and Roane counties.

The application deadline was announced this week by Altrusa International of Oak Ridge and the Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club. Applications and award criteria may be found on the Altrusa International website at www.oakridge.altrusa.org/What-We-Do/Literacy.aspx or the Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club website at www.orbrc.org.

“Lack of literacy skills continues to be a serious problem in the lives of many of our East Tennessee neighbors and for many throughout the world,” a press release said. “Non-readers and below-grade readers cannot realize their full potential in life, which in turn adversely affects our local and national economies and society in general.” [Read more…]

Final episode of ‘Classroom Under the Sea’ on Thursday

Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain Diving

During the final episode of Classroom Under the Sea on Thursday, December 11, aquanauts Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain will put their experience in perspective. (Photo courtesy Roane State Community College)


In their last “Classroom Under the Sea” episode before resurfacing, Roane State Community College professors Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain will reflect on their record-breaking 73-day underwater mission and discuss the future of ocean preservation.

The live program starts at 1 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, December 11. Viewers can watch at roanestate.edu/classroomunderthesea and on youtube.com/classroomunderthesea.

Cantrell and Fain have lived and worked in an underwater habitat—Jules’ Undersea Lodge on Key Largo in the Florida Keys—since October 3. While living in the habitat, they have hosted “Classroom Under the Sea,” an online lecture series presented by Roane State and the Marine Resources Development Foundation on Key Largo. [Read more…]

Heitman family wants death investigation re-opened

Alexander John Heitman

Alexander John Heitman

Note: This story was last updated at 11:45 a.m. Dec. 11.

The family of a former Oak Ridge school employee found dead of a shotgun wound in Cocke County more than three years ago wants authorities there to reopen the investigation of their son’s death, a press release said.

The family of Alexander “Alex” J. Heitman has also hired an attorney, retired Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugh B. Ward Jr. of Knoxville law firm Young Williams. Ward has Oak Ridge connections, serving on several local boards and as the city’s administrative hearing officer.

Heitman’s family asked for the death investigation to be re-opened after Cocke County Circuit Court Judge Ben Hooper on Monday ordered Coroner Terry Jarnigan to stay away from crime scenes and dead bodies in Cocke County. The Newport Plain Talk reported that Jarnigan allegedly compromised a corpse he was told would be sent for an autopsy in November.

WBIR-TV in Knoxville reported that Jarnigan resigned Tuesday. The Heitmans said the former county coroner oversaw their son’s crime scene.

The Plain Talk reported in June that the District Attorney’s office in Newport said it saw no reason to re-open the investigation of Heitman’s death, which has been ruled a suicide. [Read more…]

Letter: Asks Council, BOE to work together to approve, fund Preschool plan

To the Editor:

We have a unique opportunity for this community to come together, not just for the good of the schools, but for the good of the people.

The Oak Ridge school system is a big draw for newcomers to the area. When our family chose to relocate to East Tennessee, the Oak Ridge school’s reputation was a large factor in purchasing a home here and joining this community. As our oldest moves through elementary school, I can say this was the best decision for our family.

Oak Ridge is filled with teachers who truly care for their students. And, the Preschool is no different.

The Oak Ridge Preschool is an essential, irreplaceable entity that serves so many families. Two of my children have had the privilege of attending the Preschool and growing through the care of the teachers and staff. [Read more…]

Honors: Roane State student’s GIS project earns recognition

Joe Pyle Winning GIS Poster

Images courtesy of Roane State Community College


Roane State Community College student Joe Pyle enjoys working with his hands.

As a student in the college’s geographic information systems, or GIS, program, his raw material of choice is data, and his craftsmanship has received statewide recognition.

Pyle’s map predicting cell phone coverage along the Cumberland Trail won in the Best Analysis category at the East Tennessee Geographic Information Council Forum. Pyle’s map depicts the Cumberland Trail from Frozen Head State Park to LaFollette. The map is overlaid with markers predicting cell phone signal strength at points along the trail. [Read more…]