Roane candidates discuss DOE funding, airport, DARE, technology

Roane County Candidate Forum

A large standing-room-only audience attends an election forum for Roane County candidates on Tuesday at Roane State Community College in Oak Ridge. (Photo by Sara Wise)


Roane County candidates in four contested races—county executive, sheriff, circuit court judge, and circuit court clerk—discussed issues ranging from federal funding for U.S. Department of Energy work to anti-drug D.A.R.E. programs in local schools during a standing-room-only forum in Oak Ridge on Tuesday.

The forum was at Roane State Community College. Freelance reporter Sara Wise covered it for Oak Ridge Today. Here’s a summary of what the candidates said.

County Executive

County executive candidates Mike Farmer and incumbent Ron Woody both attended the forum.

When asked about the Plateau Partnership Park, Farmer said Roane County has “several million dollars” invested in the Roane Regional Business Technology Park. He said that this technology park, as well as the Plateau Partnership Park, is important to the county from an economic standpoint. [Read more...]

Haslam, SL Tennessee to make economic development announcement Friday

Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam

Gov. Bill Haslam and executives from SL Tennessee will make a significant economic development announcement in Clinton on Friday, a press release said.

The ceremony starts at 10:15 a.m. Friday at SL Tennessee at 311 Frank L. Diggs Drive.

Others expected to attend include U.S. senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker; Rep. Chuck Fleischmann; Y.K. Woo, SL America president; Scott Laska, SL Tennessee business development manager; Clinton Mayor Scott Burton; Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank; and other local elected officials.

ORCVB has special meeting Monday to discuss director search

Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Welcome Center at the Midtown Community Center on Robertsville Road is pictured above.

The Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau’s board of directors will have a special meeting on Monday, July 28, to discuss their plan to fill the vacant director’s position at the ORCVB.

The meeting will be held at the Doubletree Hotel starting at noon Monday.

The former director, Katy Brown, has accepted a new marketing and promotions job in East Tennessee, and her last day as president of the Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau was July 11.

Spotlight: Knoxville mayor tours ORNL’s manufacturing demonstration facility

Madeline Rogero at Manufacturing Demonstration Facility

Foreground, from left, ORNL’s Ryan Dehoff shows 3-D printed parts to Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, accompanied by ORNL Director Thom Mason and Craig Blue, director of ORNL’s advanced manufacturing program and the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. (Photo by Jason Richards/ORNL)


Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero recently visited the U.S. Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Rogero had been invited to participate as a “Maker Mayor” at the June 18 White House Maker Faire. Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan also attended.

When Roger returned, she asked ORNL for more information on additive manufacturing, the lab said.

The tour of the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility gave Rogero an overview of the facility and the research underway there.

International Friendship Bell repairs begin

Friendship Bell Repairs

A symbol of the friendship between Oak Ridge and Japan, the 20-year-old Friendship Bell at Alvin K. Bissell Park has been closed since late last year while the city make repairs to the structure. The city plans to start dismantling the bell structure next week.

Beginning next week, the City of Oak Ridge will start dismantling the International Friendship Bell House located in Alvin K. Bissell Park.

Earlier this spring, the city commissioned a structural evaluation of the bell house to determine the extent of suspected water damage to the supporting beams. The evaluation determined the majority of the structure, which was holding the 8,000 pound Friendship Bell, was beyond repair.

The report recommended closing the International Friendship Bell House due to public safety concerns, a press release said. A construction fence was erected around the structure to block access to the bell. [Read more...]

Reminder: Roane candidates at election forum tonight

Roane County candidates have been invited to an election forum in Oak Ridge tonight (Tuesday night).

Candidates who have been invited include those in contested races in Roane County for county executive, sheriff, circuit court clerk, circuit court judge, public defender, and Roane County School Board District 3/4, which includes Oak Ridge, have been invited to speak and answer questions.

Unopposed candidates for county attorney, county clerk, trustee, register of deeds, chancellor, criminal court judge, district attorney general, general sessions judges, and County Commission District 4 will be introduced.

The forum is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge. It starts at 7 p.m. in the City Room (A-111) at Roane State Community College in Oak Ridge. The college is at 701 Briarcliff Avenue. [Read more...]

County officials urged to hire attorneys in ouster suit as legal fees rise

Jay Yeager and Lynn Byrge

Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager, left, the defendant in an ouster suit filed by a group of residents, is pictured with Lynn Byrge, one of the petitioners, during a Monday morning Anderson County Commission meeting.


Note: This story was last updated at 10:06 a.m. July 22.

CLINTON—The legal fees in a few high-profile disputes between top Anderson County officials could approach a half-million dollars, and Anderson County commissioners should all seek their own legal counsel in an ouster lawsuit filed against the law director, stunned commissioners were told Monday.

Subpoenas have already been issued in the ouster suit, and several officials, including a few County Commissioners, have reportedly received letters asking them to waive their attorney-client privilege.

Anderson County Commissioner Myron Iwanski, who is former interim mayor, said some of the records he’s been asked to provide go back 10 years, and some of them are personnel records. Iwanski said he needs legal representation because he doesn’t want to disclose anything improper, a mistake that could lead to another lawsuit.

“It’s about trying to do what’s right for the county,” Iwanski said.

He said former Anderson County Jail Administrator Avery Johnson has also been served with a subpoena and will need legal representation.

“This is just the start of the legal battle,” Iwanski said. [Read more...]

City, AMSE Foundation have community meeting on museum Thursday


The American Museum of Science and Energy is at 300 South Tulane Avenue in Oak Ridge. (Photo by Sara Wise)

The City of Oak Ridge and the American Museum of Science and Energy Foundation are sponsoring a community meeting on Thursday that will include discussions of ways to strengthen the museum as a community and regional asset and destination attraction.

The meeting will also include an information session on current museum operations and the role of the AMSE Foundation. New AMSE Director David Moore will be at the meeting.

The meeting is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. Thursday at the museum, which is at 300 South Tulane Avenue in Oak Ridge. Registration and light refreshments will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m., a press release said.

In a press release, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said it’s the right time to get the community involved in a dialogue about the museum. [Read more...]

Oak Ridge property tax bills delivered

The City of Oak Ridge announced last week that all property tax bills have been mailed and should have been delivered to property owners for this year.

Taxes go to support the operation of many city services from street maintenance to the library, a press release said. The police and fire departments, refuse removal and disposal, recreation and parks, and many other city activities are all supported by the property tax. A portion of the tax also goes to support the Oak Ridge School system.

The Business Office is ready for the annual rush, according to Manager Marlene Witt.

“Paying taxes is no one’s favorite thing to do,” she said. “With trained, helpful staff and specialists who can answer your detailed questions, we hope to make the task, if not pleasant, at least as painless as possible.” [Read more...]

Sewer rehab work continues week of July 21

More rehabilitation work of the city’s sewer collection pipes is scheduled to continue this week, starting Monday, July 21.

The work is being done by Hurst Excavating and Morgan Contracting 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.

Residents should already have received color-coded letters and door hangers (orange for Hurst Excavating and purple for Morgan Contracting) providing general information and each contractors’ contact information.

Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists are urged to use extra care and caution when traveling on the streets with sewer work areas, a press release said. Temporary road repairs will be made, and loose gravel should be expected until the patches are permanently paved. [Read more...]

Students, teachers come to Oak Ridge for summer science learning, fun

ARC, ORAU, and ORNL Summer High School Institute

Participants of the 2014 ARC/ORNL/ORAU High School Institute. (Photo courtesy ORAU)


While the majority of young students were using their break from school to enjoy nice weather and a variety of summer activities, 34 exceptional high school students along with 13 teachers from across 12 Appalachian states chose to spend two weeks of their summer vacation participating in a hands-on institute focused on math, science, and technology.

The Appalachian Regional Commission, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge Associated Universities hosted the 25th annual High School Summer and Math-Science-Technology Institute from July 7-18, during which the students and teachers worked on cutting-edge science projects with mentors at ORNL and participated in a variety of East Tennessee tours and activities.

Students were nominated by their state governor and chosen to participate in the program by ARC. They were selected based on their potential to excel in math and science, to continue in higher learning, and to influence others in their communities as the leaders of tomorrow.

Since 2000, the program has provided a total of 542 students and 223 teachers with in-lab learning experiences at one of the nation’s premier national laboratories. In addition, they have had the opportunity to visit some of the area’s most popular educational and recreational attractions. [Read more...]

Anderson Commission Chair Fritts seeks re-election

Chuck Fritts

Chuck Fritts

Chairman Chuck Fritts is seeking re-election to the Anderson County Commission, representing District 1. District 1 includes the Bull Run and Claxton precincts.

“It has truly been an honor and a privilege to represent the residents of District 1 on the Anderson County Commission,” Fritts said in a press release. “I take very seriously the trust that you have placed in me, and it is my desire that you will allow me to continue to serve you and, working with my fellow commissioners, to move Anderson County forward.”

First elected in 2002, Fritts said he brings valuable experience, knowledge, and leadership to the Anderson County Commission and has worked hard to represent the residents of District 1.

“He has taken this position very seriously and has worked long hours to do the job he felt he was elected to do,” the press release said. “He is not only well-known throughout Anderson County, but also throughout the state of Tennessee.” [Read more...]