Kick off new year with January Jaunt at Clark Center Park, Gallaher Bend Greenway

Clark Center Park Picnic Area

One of two large picnic areas at Clark Center Park. The park also includes a small playground, two ball fields, boat ramp, fishing trails, and beach. (File photo)

 

The City of Oak Ridge Wellness Committee and Oak Ridge Coordinated School Health will kick off the new year with a January Jaunt at Gallaher Bend Greenway and Clark Center Park. The community is invited to take part, a press release said.

The January Jaunt is a beautiful hike and walk that will showcase the greenway and park, the press release said. It will start at 9 a.m. January 10.

“The Gallaher Bend Greenway offers a quiet, forested trail with lovely vistas of Melton Lake,” the release said. [Read more…]

Guest column: Serving the city helps achieve community goals

Mark Watson

Mark Watson

By Mark S. Watson, Oak Ridge City Manager

The City of Oak Ridge is one that prides itself on the interest, knowledge, and involvement of its citizens in local government. Oak Ridgers are always willing to add a different perspective, technical information, and just darn good opinions on topics that affect them.

On January 12, 2015, the Oak Ridge City Council will appoint citizen volunteers to fill vacancies on boards and commissions that have occurred due to term expiration and attrition from the board membership.

Applications must be received in the City Clerk’s office by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, December 31.

Over the past years, the City Council has found it sometimes challenging to fill the vacancies of its various boards. People are busy, and getting busier! Some feel that many governmental matters require special knowledge. Others have not thought of providing their talents to shape their community. [Read more…]

No holiday garbage pickup on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day

Waste Connections Inc. will not pick up trash or recyclables in Oak Ridge on Christmas Day, Thursday, December 25, or on New Year’s Day, Thursday January 1, 2015.

For both weeks, the regular Thursday routes will be picked up the following day on Friday, and the regular Friday routes will be picked up the following day on Saturday.

Please have all refuse and recyclables out by 7 a.m. for the Friday and Saturday routes. [Read more…]

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…]

Executive session leads to Commission fireworks

Information from WYSH Radio

There was some drama during Monday night’s meeting of the Anderson County Commission when commissioners voted to go into executive session with County Law Director Jay Yeager to discuss the mounting number of lawsuits against the county. Executive sessions are called for when commissioners want to go behind closed doors to discuss sensitive issues, mainly of a legal nature.

On Monday, County Mayor Terry Frank indicated that she wanted to stay for the executive session, claiming ex oficio status as a member of the Commission. Commission Chair Robert McKamey declined her request, citing her own repeated public statements that Yeager is not “her” attorney, that he does not represent her, and that she neither values nor wants his legal advice.

After commissioners declined her request, she and several private citizens left the meeting room while commissioners retired to executive session. We will bring you more information as it becomes available.

Lawsuit filed against AC Circuit Court Clerk, county

Information from WYSH Radio

A former employee of the Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office has filed an age discrimination lawsuit in Circuit Court against Court Clerk William Jones and the county.

Helen Forrester, 69, was fired on September 10, 2014, and according to the lawsuit filed Monday, after 24 years in the office. Forrester’s lawsuit claims that she was fired so that Jones could replace her with someone younger despite her “good, if not excellent” work and job performance evaluations.

The lawsuit also states that Forrester believed that she had an “expressed and/or implied contract of continuous employment (with the county), and otherwise maintained the right not to have her employment terminated without cause.”

The lawsuit seeks $300,000 in compensatory damages from the county for her “injuries, including a loss of salary, future earnings, and humiliation and embarrassment” caused by the defendant, and $300,000 in treble damages against Jones for “interference with (Forrester’s) employment relationship with Anderson County government” as well as court costs and a jury trial.

Randy Boyd named state commissioner of economic, community development

Photo courtesy UT Torchbearer

Photo courtesy UT Torchbearer

East Tennessee businessman Randy Body has been named commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Governor Bill Haslam announced Thursday.

Boyd, 55, is chairman of Radio Systems Corporation, which he started in 1991. Radio Systems is headquartered in Knoxville and has more than 650 associates worldwide with offices in seven countries, a press release said.

Radio Systems is the company that donated $100,000 donation to the PetSafe Dog Park at Big Turtle Park in Oak Ridge.

The press release said Boyd is a successful entrepreneur who served as a full-time, unpaid special adviser to the governor for higher education in 2013, focusing on the “Drive to 55” initiative to bring the percentage of Tennesseans with college degrees or certificates from 32 percent up to 55 percent by the year 2025. Boyd’s work resulted in the Tennessee Promise, a program that provides two years of community college or a college of applied technology free of tuition and fees to graduating Tennessee high school seniors. [Read more…]

Former Wackenhut security officer indicted for theft of public funds

KNOXVILLE—A federal grand jury in Knoxville has indicted a former security officer at a federal site in Oak Ridge for allegedly stealing U.S. government property and money laundering, officials said Thursday.

Sarah Parker, 52, of Dandridge, Tennessee, was indicted Tuesday, U.S. Attorney William C. Killian said in a press release. Parker was employed as an officer for security contractor Wackenhut Services Inc. at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site in Oak Ridge.

She appeared in court on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley Jr. and pleaded not guilty to the charges in the three-count indictment, Killian said. She was released pending trial, which has been set for February 17, 2015, in United States District Court in Knoxville. [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…]

TVA: Kingston Ash Recovery Project nears completion

TVA Kingston Fossil Plant Dike C Reinforcement

TVA Kingston Fossil Plant Dike C reinforcement (Photos courtesy TVA)

 

The Tennessee Valley Authority is in the final stages of the Kingston recovery project. The public utility says it’s fulfilling a promise to restore the area surrounding the Kingston Fossil Plant near Harriman following the coal ash spill in December 2008, the largest ash spill in U.S. history.

A major milestone was reached in early December, with the completion of the cover for a 240-acre permanent ash retention landfill. The new landfill, which has been fortified with an underground earthquake-resistant wall anchored in bedrock, is covered by a flexible-membrane liner and geo-composite fabric, two feet of clay, topsoil, and grass.

“We all know this incident shouldn’t have happened,” said TVA President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson, who visited the recovery site on December 17. “But we have learned from it and we are fulfilling our commitment to making it right.”

TVA says it’s also keeping its promise by returning the Emory River and surrounding waterways to pre-spill conditions, reforesting and adding vegetation to surrounding land, stabilizing shorelines, and adding wetlands and other wildlife habitats. TVA has opened Lakeshore Park, which features 32 acres of walking trails, fishing piers, a boat ramp, and docks. [Read more…]

Application deadline extended for city boards, commissions

The deadline to apply to serve on city boards and commissions has been extended to December 31.

This year’s process is similar to previous years in that interested residents must complete a Boards and Commissions application and may attach additional documents that includes cover letters, references, and resumes. The application allows residents to choose and rank their top three board choices for membership consideration.

The application is available on the City’s website at www.oakridgetn.gov. Applications are also available in the City Clerk’s Office, Room Number 109, in the Municipal Building, located at 200 South Tulane Avenue. [Read more…]

Letter: Former Council member remains committed to helping city prosper

Anne Garcia Garland

Anne Garcia Garland

To the Editor:

There is no way to fully thank the people who have supported and inspired me during my service on Council and the run for re-election. For all of you who voted for me and helped in the campaign, I am very grateful. The past five-and-a-half years have been challenging and fun and fulfilling.

I am proud to have served during an economically difficult period and to have participated in many positive efforts that have begun to reinvigorate both the commercial and the residential interests of our city.

To any and all citizens who have questions or issues, I remain committed to helping the city prosper. Please feel welcome to email me at [email protected] or write to me at 120 Outer.

And thank you again for allowing me to serve.

Anne Garcia Garland

Oak Ridge