Watson has confidence in police chief, no further investigation planned

Mark Watson

Mark Watson

Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson on Thursday said he has “absolute confidence” in Police Chief Jim Akagi and has no plans to further investigate concerns raised this week by City Council member Trina Baughn.

Baughn raised concerns about the turnover rate in the Oak Ridge Police Department and claims made in a grievance filed by former officer Chris Bayless. In a Sunday email, Baughn said her calculations showed that the police force had lost 30 members in 3.5 years under Akagi, and that equates to 11.7 per year, or an estimated 15 percent turnover rate.

Baughn said some officers who have resigned felt “forced out,” while others who remain are “just counting the days” until they can leave.

“I believe that our turnover issues are not a reflection on the character of the majority of our men and women in blue; rather they are attributable to leadership,” Baughn said in an email to Watson and carbon-copied to Oak Ridge City Council members and reporters.

Trina Baughn

Trina Baughn

She said she is ready to help Watson “immediately address these problems and stabilize our police department.”

But city officials questioned Baughn’s numbers and said they don’t think the turnover rate is significantly out of line with what it has been previously. An average of 7.25 employees per year have left in the last four years due to resignations, retirements, or being asked to leave, Watson said Thursday.

“I don’t think it’s a significant change,” he said. [Read more…]

Senior Advisory Board meets Monday, Feb. 2

The Oak Ridge Senior Advisory Board will meet at 9 a.m. Monday, February 2, in the Senior Center, Room 54.

Agenda items include electing officers for the new year and community garden possibilities for the Senior Center.

Oak Ridge city calendar for Feb. 2015: City Council, boards, commissions

Here is the calendar of meetings of the Oak Ridge City Council and boards and commissions for February 2015: [Read more…]

Oak Ridge Reservation Communities Alliance meets Feb. 4

The Oak Ridge Reservation Communities Alliance will meet on Wednesday, February 4, at 2 p.m. in the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, DOE-Oversight Office, at 761 Emory Valley Road in Oak Ridge.

The Alliance includes Terry Frank, Tim Burchett, Garland Lankford, Don Edwards, George Thacker, Warren Gooch, Amy Fitzgerald, Ron Woody, and Scott Stout.

The meeting is open to the public.

Guest column: Sen. Yager asks for constituent input

Ken Yager

Ken Yager

NASHVILLE—The 109th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee convened at noon on January 13, 2015, for an organizational session. Among other items on the agenda, the Senate and House of Representatives elected their speakers and adopted rules for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions. At the end of the week, on January 17, we will inaugurate the state’s 49th Governor, Bill Haslam, to begin his second four-year term. After a short recess, we will reconvene on February 2 and remain in session until mid to late April.

State spending in a tight budget year will be the predominant driver for legislative action in 2015. Other significant issues expected to be on the legislature’s agenda in 2015 are jobs, healthcare, education, taxes, and legislation stemming from the ratification of the constitutional amendments passed by voters in November. It is very important that I hear from my constituents on these issues as some of them will be controversial.

I will continue the practice of sending out weekly Senate reports during session and appreciate the local papers who publish them. We now send video updates to local papers and audio statements to radio stations during the legislative session which I hope you will access. [Read more…]

Recreation, Parks Board to discuss upcoming year during Saturday work session

The Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Advisory Board will discuss its work plan for the upcoming year during a Saturday morning work session. The Board will also discuss ways it can work alongside the Recreation and Parks Department on long-range planning.

The work session starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, January 31, in the Club Room of the Oak Ridge Civic Center at 1403 Oak Ridge Turnpike.

For more information about the Recreation and Parks Department, call (865) 425-3450 or visit www.orrecparks.org for information on all of their programs.

Sewer rehab work continues week of Jan. 26

More rehabilitation work of the city’s sewer collection pipes is scheduled to continue this week, starting Monday, January 26.

The work is being done by Hurst Excavating and Portland Utilities Construction Company under contract with the City of Oak Ridge. It includes rehabilitating sewer collection pipes within city easements in yards and in roadways, a press release said. [Read more…]

Democrats to discuss early years of Planned Parenthood in Monday meeting

A former president of the first Planned Parenthood in the Southeast will discuss the organization during a Monday evening meeting of Democrats.

Elizabeth Peelle helped organize and then served as president and volunteer executive director from 1969 to 1970 for Planned Parenthood of the Southern Mountains, the first Planned Parenthood in the Southeast, serving health care needs of women in Anderson County and surrounding Appalachian counties, a press release said. She drafted the first proposal for outside funding that led to a professional staff for the agency.

Peelle then organized Tennesseans for Choice in 1989 because Planned Parenthood could not lobby for the pro-choice view, and she served as its president for the first eight years, the press release said. [Read more…]

Haslam announces winners of LEAP competition, including Roane State

Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam


Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam in December announced the recipients of the Labor Education Alignment Program, or LEAP, competition, a state effort focused on increasing opportunities for Tennesseans to obtain a certificate or degree beyond high school that is aligned with the needs of the workforce in their communities.

“These types of intentional partnerships between local agencies and their colleges or TCATS are what we want to see across the state as a significant piece of the Drive to 55 initiative,” Haslam said. “Tying the training and skills that our colleges are teaching directly to current workforce needs will help more Tennesseans qualify for good paying, high quality jobs.”

The communities and colleges selected as LEAP recipients exemplify the collaboration and alignment between workforce needs and higher education that are at the core of the Drive to 55,” Haslam said. [Read more…]

Breakfast with Legislators kicks off Monday

Randy McNally

Randy McNally

John Ragan

John Ragan

This year’s Breakfast with the Legislators kicks off Monday.

Breakfast with the Legislators is a monthly morning meeting with state legislators from Oak Ridge and Anderson and Roane counties. It’s held the first few months each year while the Tennessee General Assembly is in session in Nashville.

It includes brief updates of the legislative session from local legislators and a question-and-answer session with those who attend. It’s open to the public. [Read more…]

Sen. McNally reappointed chair of Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee

Randy McNally

Randy McNally

Tennessee Senator Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge Republican, has been reappointed chairman of the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.

Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey made the appointment during the General Assembly’s organizational session, which ended Saturday. McNally has led the committee as chairman since 2007.

“I am very pleased to be reappointed to this role in our Finance Committee” McNally said in a press release. “This will be another challenging year for our budget, and I look forward to working on solutions to the issues we face.” [Read more…]

Hike for Your Heart at Haw Ridge on Feb. 7

Haw Ridge Park Parking Lot

Part of the Melton Lake Greenway is pictured above at the Haw Ridge Park parking lot.


Oak Ridge city and school officials will kick off Heart Health Month with a walk and hike at Haw Ridge Park on February 7.

Hike for Your Heart is a 4.2-mile walk with optional trail hiking included. It starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, February 7, and the public is invited. The walk and hike has been organized by the City of Oak Ridge Wellness Committee and Oak Ridge Coordinated School Health.

The walking path has varied elevations, a press release said. Walkers will leave the Haw Ridge parking area on Edgemoor Road promptly at 9 a.m. February 7. [Read more…]