2014 Election: Mayoral candidates ‘bicker’ over tax hikes, lawsuits

Anderson County Mayor Debate

The three candidates for Anderson County mayor are pictured above at a debate moderated by radio talk show host Hallerin Hilton Hill, left. Starting at center, the three candidates in the August 7 mayoral election are Terry Frank, the incumbent and a Republican; Democrat Jim Hackworth; and Independent Bradley Rickett.

CLINTON—She’s attacked him over a 24-year-old tax hike. He’s blasted her over lawsuits and turmoil in the Anderson County Courthouse.

The two candidates, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank and her challenger, Jim Hackworth, will face off in the August 7 election.

Frank, a Republican, was first elected mayor in a special election in August 2012. Now she is running for her first four-year term.

Hackworth, a Democrat, is a former state representative and Anderson County commissioner.

The two have battled in forums, on radio shows, and through ads and flyers. Their political squabbles have largely ignored the third candidate, Independent Bradley Rickett. [Read more...]

OSM grant provides public water to Seiber Flats

Seiber Flats

Maxine Gernert, far left, field representative for Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, Anderson County Water Authority General Manager Larry Clowers, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, and project engineer Bob Colvin, far right, gather with Seiber Flats homeowner Joe Goans and his son Joel. (Photo courtesy of Anderson County Government)



SEIBER FLATS—Father and son Joe and Joel Goans, of Anderson County’s rural Seiber Flats community, have done things to their home they’ve never been able to do before, all because they now have public water.

For years, Joe and his family used well and pond water to do everything around their property, including flushing toilets inside their home.

The Anderson County Water Authority recently completed the extension of approximately 9,400 linear feet of water lines to the rural area beyond Briceville.

Now, the Goans family and others in their neighborhood, have public water and they’ve already put it to good use. [Read more...]

Oak Ridge sponsors Memory Magic Scrapbook in September

The Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department is sponsoring the 9th Annual Memory Magic Scrapbook event at the Oak Ridge Civic Center on September 26 and 27.

The event will include vendors, classes, and a large crop area. Online registration will open August 20 and will continue until September 20. Walk-in registration begins on September 26 at 8 a.m.

There is limited seating in the crop area and in each classroom. Class information will be posted on the website by August 20. The crop area will open at 8 a.m. each morning and close at 11:30 p.m. on Friday and 11 p.m. on Saturday. [Read more...]

Irwin: Frank may have to hire commission attorney in Yeager ouster suit

Chuck Fritts, Myron Iwanski, and Dusty Irwin

Anderson County Commissioner Dusty Irwin, right, has proposed a special meeting to possibly repeal an approved motion made last week by Commissioner Myron Iwanski, center, that covers legal fees for current and former county employees in the ouster suit filed against Law Director Jay Yeager. Also pictured is Anderson County Commission Chair Chuck Fritts.


Jay Yeager and Terry Frank

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, right, and Law Director Jay Yeager have been embroiled in several high-profile disputes, including over an ouster suit filed in May in Chancery Court.

Irwin says he’s willing to consider options

CLINTON—Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank may be the only person authorized to hire an attorney to represent county commissioners responding to subpoenas or other legal notices filed in the ouster suit against Law Director Jay Yeager, a commissioner said Monday.

That means a motion approved 13-2 by the Anderson County Commission last week might have to be repealed, said Commissioner Dusty Irwin, whose district includes Norris and Andersonville. That motion allows each commissioner to hire their own attorney and bill the county, Irwin said.

He said his recommendation this week is based on his interpretation of state law and attorney general’s opinions. He’s called for a special meeting to repeal last week’s motion by Commissioner Myron Iwanski, who represents part of Oak Ridge and is former interim county mayor, and consider a new motion that asks Frank to find and hire an attorney to replace Yeager in the case.

“Although I am no lawyer, the attached seems clear that the commission cannot authorize or hire legal counsel in the absence of a law director, and our law director (Jay Yeager) has stated to the commission that he cannot represent or advise us on the ouster suit he is currently involved in,” Irwin said in a Monday e-mail forwarded to commissioners and the media. “Also, it appears to me that only the the county mayor can perform this hiring action and that the commission may only approve the expenditure by a majority vote.”

It’s not clear if other commissioners will agree. Iwanski was unavailable for comment Tuesday morning. [Read more...]

About 1,600 lost power in Sunday storms

About 1,600 customers lost power during the two major bands of storms that ripped through Oak Ridge at around 8 p.m. and midnight Sunday night, Oak Ridge Electric Director Jack Suggs said.

The outages were concentrated around 15 distinct locations, and the east end of town was hit the hardest, Suggs said. The Oak Ridge Electric Department started working on repairs as soon as it could bring in people to help, and crews have been working continuously to restore power.

Suggs said most everyone had power restored by noon Monday. Others had had power restored earlier, some at midnight, more at 3 a.m., then still more by 4 a.m. The majority were back on by 7 a.m. Monday, and crews started “whittling away” at those who were left. [Read more...]

Clinton gives land to SL Tennessee for expansion, will receive fire station donation

SL Tennessee

SL Tennessee is on Frank L. Diggs Drive in the Clinton I-75 Industrial Park.

Note: This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. July 29.

CLINTON—The Clinton City Council voted unanimously Monday to make an exchange with SL Tennessee.

SL Tennessee was given more than 52 acres after the auto parts manufacturer announced plans to invest $80.5 million to build a 250,000-square-foot plant in the Clinton I-75 Industrial Park. The building, SL Tennessee’s fifth expansion since locating in Clinton in 2001, will manufacture automobile headlights and tail lamps for General Motors.

In exchange, after construction is complete, the company will donate between $200,000 and $250,000 to the city to build a new fire station in the industrial park.

Anderson County Economic Development Association Director Tim Thompson approached the council during a special-called meeting Monday morning to propose the deal. No one from the public came forward to speak on the proposal. [Read more...]

Oak Ridge could consider taking over DOE’s Clark Center Park

Clark Center Park Swimming Beach

The swimming beach at Clark Center Park. (Photos courtesy Cindy McCullough)

City officials could consider taking over Clark Center Park in south Oak Ridge, City Manager Mark Watson said Sunday.

It could be an alternative to letting the U.S. Department of Energy turn over the popular swimming, boating, picnicking, and fishing destination to the federal General Services Administration, which could, in turn, dispose of it, Watson said.

The 80-acre park—which includes a softball field, boat ramp, swimming beach, restrooms, and picnic areas—is a major cost to DOE, Watson said. And running a park is not really part of the department’s mission.

“They’re facing continuing budgetary shortfalls, and they’re going to have to do something with the park,” Watson said.

It’s part of a discussion that dates back to at least 1993, Watson said.

“This time, it looks like it’s moving in a different direction,” he said. “It’s moving toward GSA.” [Read more...]

Sewer rehab work continues week of July 28

More rehabilitation work of the city’s sewer collection pipes is scheduled to continue this week, starting Monday, July 28.

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...]

Democratic Women host tea for Mary Headrick on Monday

Mary Headrick

Mary Headrick

The Anderson County Democratic Women’s Club will host a tea on Monday, July 28, for Mary Headrick, the Democratic candidate for the Third Congressional District seat, and other female candidates in this year’s elections.

The tea, in support of female Democratic candidates, will be from 5-7 p.m. July 28 at Democratic Headquarters at 125 Leinart St., Suite 3, in Clinton. Tea and light refreshments will be served, a press release said.

Women are invited to come meet Headrick, have tea, and discuss issues important to the Third District, the release said. The club will also offer its support to district candidates for the female position on the Democratic Party Executive Committee: Dixie Damm and Beth Hickman. Other Democratic female candidates from the region are invited to attend.

SL Tennessee expansion could be largest in industrial employment since World War II

SL Tennessee Expansion Media Availability

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, center, announces 1,000 new jobs as part of an $80.5 million expansion at auto parts manufacturer SL Tennessee in Clinton. Also pictured from left are Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Clinton Mayor Scott Burton, and U.S. Senator Bob Corker.


Note: This story was last updated at 11:30 a.m. July 26.

CLINTON—The 1,000 new jobs announced at SL Tennessee in Clinton on Friday could be the largest expansion of industrial employment in Anderson County since World War II, officials said.

SL Tennessee, an auto parts manufacturer, plans to invest $80.5 million to build a 250,000-square-foot plant on Frank L. Diggs Drive in the Clinton I-75 Industrial Park. It will be SL Tennessee’s LLC third building in the park, and the company’s fifth expansion since locating in Clinton in 2001. The new building will manufacture automobile head lights and tail lamps for General Motors.

The jobs announcement was made in the South Korean company’s Chassis Plant on Friday near workers assembling gear shifters and brake assemblies, mostly for GM. Marking the importance of the announcement, Gov. Bill Haslam was invited to speak and so were U.S. senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.

“This is obviously a big day,” said Haslam, who announced the new jobs. “It shows our growth in the automotive business.”

It’s the second announcement of more than 1,000 jobs at an automotive plant in East Tennessee in the past two weeks. Last week, Volkswagen announced a $600 million investment and 2,000 new jobs in Chattanooga. [Read more...]

Community considers future of AMSE as Congress debates Manhattan Project park

David Moore and Mark Watson

During Thursday’s community meeting at AMSE, David Moore, left, said a few words about his background after being introduced by Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson, right. (Photos by Sara Wise)


The American Museum of Science and Energy Foundation teamed up with the City of Oak Ridge on Thursday to host the first of four community meetings meant to allow the community to have some input into the future of the museum, and how it might fit into the proposed Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

The first meeting was at the museum on Thursday night. It began with presentations that focused on providing information to help audience members make informed suggestions about the museum.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Communication Director David Keim was among those who made presentations. He said that the museum attracted 71,500 visitors in 2013 and received $1.6 million in federal funding.

Keim explained why AMSE’s contract with Enterprise Advisory Services Inc. was allowed to run out June 30. [Read more...]