Oak Ridge receives $2.9 million grant from TVA for Energy Makeover

Mark Watson

Mark Watson

The City of Oak Ridge has been selected for a $2.9 million grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority that will “undoubtedly change the lives of people living in legacy Oak Ridge homes by helping them save money on their utility bills,” officials said Friday.

This grant is part of TVA’s Extreme Energy Makeover project and will allow the start of an unprecedented revitalization of the legacy homes in the Oak Ridge community and provide assistance to those that need it the most, a press release said.

“The City of Oak Ridge is honored to be selected for participation and award for use in the Extreme Energy Makeover program, which will be used to encourage use of the legacy housing of the city when it was a ‘Secret City,’” City Manager Mark Watson said. “This investment will demonstrate our housing’s continued value for residents for years to come. As historical housing, our demonstration project has shown that electrical usage can be substantially reduced creating a ‘win-win’ for our residents, TVA, and the Oak Ridge electrical system alike. We look forward to the challenge and partnership with TVA to become a model for the entire TVA service region.” [Read more…]

Former nuclear physics teacher in OR to be inducted into TN Women’s Hall of Fame

Elizabeth Rona

Elizabeth Rona

Elizabeth Rona, a former nuclear physics teacher at the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies, will be inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame on Monday, October 26.

Before she immigrated to the United States, Rona was the first woman to teach chemistry in any university in Hungary.

Once in the U.S., she was on the frontlines of the discoveries of isotopes and fission, and later contributed to work in the Manhattan project. She later taught on theory and methods of nuclear physics at the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies.

Rona is one of two inductees to be honored posthumously. The ceremony will honor a total of eight women from all three grand divisions of the state (East, Middle, and West), including an astronaut, judge, and civil rights pioneer. [Read more…]

Eagle Bend Manufacturing expanding in Clinton, investing $55M, adding 127 jobs

Anderson County Animal Shelter Eagle Bend Donation

Ed Steinebach, right, general manager for Magna International’s Eagle Bend Manufacturing plant  in Clinton, is pictured above at an Anderson County Commission meeting in July. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


Eagle Bend Manufacturing, an auto parts manufacturer, is expanding its operations in Clinton, investing $54.9 million, and creating 127 new jobs, officials said Thursday.

It’s the company’s second expansion in just over three years. The expansion was announced Thursday by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd.

“We want to thank Eagle Bend Manufacturing for choosing to reinvest in Tennessee and creating these new jobs in Anderson County,” Haslam said. “Tennessee continues to be a global leader in automotive manufacturing, thanks in large part to the strong network of suppliers located around the state, and today’s announcement supports our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

Eagle Bend Manufacturing produces major body structures and assemblies for the automotive industry. Officials said the expansion will allow the company to add a new building to its facility, making room for additional equipment to meet demand. [Read more…]


Signing ceremony for Manhattan Project park on Nov. 10 in DC

Hanford B Reactor

The Hanford B Reactor (Photo courtesy Atomic Heritage Foundation)


By Atomic Heritage Foundation

The birthday of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which includes Oak Ridge, is now set for November 10, 2015.

While the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act became law on December 19, 2014, the Act requires that the Departments of Energy and Interior reach an agreement within a year of enactment on their respective roles in implementing the new park. At that time, the park will be officially established.

We understand that the Departments of Energy and the National Park Service leaders are close to an agreement. Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell are scheduled to have a signing ceremony on Tuesday, November 10, in Washington, D.C.

The Manhattan Project Park Act passed after the National Park Service’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget was in place, so the funds available in 2016 for NPS’s work on the park are limited to $180,000.

NPS Associate Director Victor Knox talked about 2016 as a transitional year for the new park, as the Park Service assumes management and focuses on how best to interpret the story of the Manhattan Project. The Department of Energy and its laboratories have been funding a variety of activities this year and have developed a five-year budget plan for restoring and providing public access to its historic assets. [Read more…]

Photos: Jackson Square fountain operating, benches installed

Jackson Square Bench and Fountain Sept. 28, 2015

The $1 million renovation of the Jackson Square parking lot includes an interactive fountain, brick-like stone pavers, and new benches, landscaping, and lights. The fountain was operating on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


The new interactive fountain at Jackson Square was operating on Monday. It’s part of a $1 million renovation of the Jackson Square parking lot. The work was mostly funded with a Tennessee Department of Transportation grant.

Construction started in January and, according to the most recent publicly announced schedule, was expected to be substantially complete by September 15.

The renovation includes a reconfigured parking lot, landscaped pedestrian plaza with parking, the interactive fountain, stone pavers, curbing, asphalt paving, utilities, new lights, benches, sidewalks, and upgrades under the American with Disabilities Act.

It’s the first major renovation at Jackson Square, the city’s original town center, in 70 years. The $741,609 TDOT Enhancement Grant was awarded to the city in June 2012.

There had been some concerns this summer among business owners, city officials, and residents about delays in the project. But the frustrations seemed to ease, at least publicly, after the fountain arrived in August.

The work appeared to be mostly done on Monday, September 28. Here are photos from Jackson Square on Monday.

Jackson Square Fountain Sept. 28, 2015

The $1 million renovation of the Jackson Square parking lot includes an interactive fountain, brick-like stone pavers, and new benches, landscaping, and lights. The fountain was operating on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

[Read more…]

Emert elected chair of Anderson Commission, Isbel is vice chair

Steve Emert

Steve Emert

Anderson County Commissioner Steve Emert was elected chair of the Anderson County Commission on Monday, replacing former Chair Robert McKamey, and Commissioner Tim Isbel was elected vice chair of the 16-member legislative body.

McKamey had sought to be reappointed to a second one-year term as chair. But he only picked up two votes Monday, one from him and the other from Commissioner Philip Warfield.

Emert, who has been vice chair for one one-year term, voted “no” for McKamey, and all other commissioners who were present abstained, which was, under the rules, a vote for Emert. Nine votes were required.

Anderson County commissioners Myron Iwanski and Angeleque McNutt were absent.

Isbel was appointed vice chair. No one else sought that post. [Read more…]

Alexander Guest House renovation restores grandeur at historic hotel

Alexander Guest House Ballroom and Cafeteria Sept. 23, 2015

The ballroom and cafeteria area is pictured above at the Alexander Guest House, which converted the beloved but long-vacant Alexander Inn hotel into an assisted living center. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


It’s been a dream for years, and now the preservation and transformation of the former Alexander Inn is nearly complete.

The two-year, $8 million construction and renovation project is almost finished, and Alexander Guest House could open as an assisted living facility in about two weeks, said Rick Dover of Dover Development of East Tennessee.

Sixty percent of the 64 apartments are already reserved, Executive Director Jody Daugherty said during a media tour Wednesday. Among those who will live there are Jean Stone of Oak Ridge and Dean Ford of Oliver Springs. They participated in the media tour on Wednesday.

“I think they’ve done a remarkable job of restoring it to its grandeur,” said Stone, a longtime Oak Ridge resident who has “many fine memories” of parties, weddings, wedding receptions, and club meetings, among other events, at the historic two-story hotel. “Once I saw what they’re doing here, I wanted to come here. I think it will be a lovely place to live. It’s absolutely tremendous.”

The historic two-story hotel was built as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II, and top scientists and dignitaries once stayed there. [Read more…]

Council to get update on airport this evening

Oak Ridge Airport Development Plan

The Heritage Center airport development plan is pictured above. (Cropped image from DOE Draft Environmental Assessment)


The City Council will get an update on the proposed general aviation airport in west Oak Ridge during a work session this evening.

The update will be given by Billy Stair, public affairs consultant for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority.

The airport could cost $30-$40 million, and construction could start in 2018, according to a current timeline and construction estimate. The airport would include a 5,000-foot runway and be built at the front side of Heritage Center, the former K-25 site.

The Oak Ridge airport would the third for the MKAA, which would own the site. The other two are McGhee Tyson in Blount County and Downtown Island in Knoxville. The Oak Ridge airport would be a reliever airport and help relieve congestion at the other two airports. [Read more…]

AC Commission preview

Anderson County Courthouse

The Anderson County Courthouse on Main Street in Clinton is pictured above. (File photo)

Information from WYSH Radio

The Anderson County Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. today (Monday, September 21) in Room 312 of the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton.

Prior to this evening’s meeting, the Commission will issue a proclamation saluting Anderson County Community Action Commission for its 50 years of service to the county.

Once the meeting begins, one of the more interesting items on the agenda will be consideration of an Operations Committee recommendation that a writ of mandamus be sought from a judge to force Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank to sign a motion that has been approved twice by the Commission to open an access road to the East Wolf Valley convenience center in Claxton to alleviate traffic congestion.

Frank will address what she calls the county’s non-compliance with state laws regarding vehicles for elected officials and will revisit the issue of whether the Commission has the authority to directly hire and supervise employees. [Read more…]

Harvest Hike on Melton Lake Greenway on Oct. 3

City of Oak Ridge Harvest Hike

A Harvest Hike on Melton Lake Greenway on October 3 will feature a 4.2-mile “out and back” walk with optional trail hiking.

The hike is scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, October 3 at Melton Lake Greenway, Phase 4.

The walk path has varied elevations and can accommodate bicycles and strollers.

The hike will start from the Haw Ridge parking area on Edgemoor Road promptly at 9 a.m., organizers said. The hike is sponsored by the City of Oak Ridge Wellness Committee and Oak Ridge Schools Coordinated Health.

Copyright 2015 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Property tax bills sent out, payments due Oct. 31

Oak Ridge property tax bills were sent out, and payments are due without penalty by October 31.

The tax statements should have been received by September 1, the City of Oak Ridge said.

The city received the certified tax rate—or tax-neutral rate—from Tennessee this summer and adopted the $2.52 rate without changing it. That’s in contrast to other surrounding city and county governments, including Anderson and Roane counties.

Problems in Roane County’s re-assessments delayed the city from setting the tax rate and sending out tax bills when expected. But those problems were resolved as of August 3.

The new tax-neutral rate went up in Oak Ridge because total property assessments went down in Anderson and Roane counties. The tax-neutral rate is meant to bring in the same amount of revenue after a five-year reappraisal as before. [Read more…]

City crews working to restore power after early morning electrical failure

Frank Callaghan Towers Electric Repairs

Oak Ridge Electric Department crews work to restore electricity to Frank Callaghan Towers on Fairbanks Road after a power failure was reported early Friday morning. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


Oak Ridge Electric Department crews worked to restore electricity to Frank Callaghan Towers on Fairbanks Road after an early morning power failure on Friday.

The Oak Ridge Fire Department responded to the report of a fire alarm at Callaghan Towers on 115 Fairbanks Road at approximately 3:31 a.m. on Friday, September 18. When they arrived, ORFD firefighters investigated and found the elevator mechanical room was filled with smoke. ORFD entered into the room using a thermal imaging camera and found elevator motor number one to be smoking and elevator motor number two to be overheating, a press release said.

Firefighters disconnected power to the elevators and set up exhaust fans in the outside doorways to clear the building of smoke. Residents from the first floor were evacuated from the building until the building was cleared of smoke. Residents on floors two through six were sheltered in place in their rooms during the event. [Read more…]