Photos: Jackson Square parking lot work continues Thursday

Jackson Square Fountain and Landscaping

New landscaping is in the foreground and the interactive fountain is in the background at Jackson Square as construction continued on the $1 million parking lot renovation on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


The $1 million renovation of the Jackson Square parking lot continued Thursday, with the goal of finishing the project in time for Taste of Anderson County on Saturday.

Construction started in January on what has turned into one of the most closely watched projects in Oak Ridge. Work is funded with help from a $741,609 Tennessee Department of Transportation Enhancement Grant that was awarded to the city in June 2012. The TDOT grant covers 80 percent of the work, and it requires a 20 percent city match.

The work is reported to be the first major renovation at Jackson Square in 70 years. It includes a landscaped pedestrian plaza with parking, an interactive fountain, stone pavers, curbing, asphalt paving, utilities, benches, sidewalks, and upgrades under the American with Disabilities Act. [Read more…]

Taste of Anderson County on Saturday, work continues at Jackson Square

Jackson Square Fountain Brick Work

Workers install bricks at the interactive fountain area in Jackson Square on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


Work continued at the Jackson Square parking lot this week as merchants, organizers, and the city prepare for Taste of Anderson County on Saturday.

The substantial completion date for the parking lot work was expected to be Tuesday, September 15, and the goal is to have the project done in time for Taste of Anderson County.

The annual outdoor festival features food and music. It’s scheduled from 4-9 p.m. Saturday, September 19, in the Jackson Square parking lot. This year, there will be music, more than 20 different restaurant vendors, and a bar stocked with beer, wine, and moonshine cocktails and wings, organizers said.

Taste of Anderson County will benefit two local causes: United Way of Anderson County and the Free Medical Clinic. [Read more…]

New Roane tax rate could mean another $95 for OR homeowner

David Morgan

David Morgan (File photo/2012)

The new certified property tax rate and tax rate increase in Roane County could cost the owner of a $100,000 home in Oak Ridge another $95 per year, according to data provided by the Roane County property assessor.

That’s a 19.29 percent increase, according to the information from Property Assessor David Morgan. Here’s the breakdown of the increase: 4.37 percent was due to the increase in the state-certified rate—Tennessee officials call it a tax-neutral rate—and 19.29 percent was due to the 29-cent increase approved by the Roane County Commission on Monday and anticipated in a budget passed in July.

The tax-neutral rate in Roane County went up because the total overall property assessment went down 3.47 percent. The tax-neutral rate is the rate meant to bring in the same amount of revenues after a reappraisal as before. If the overall property assessment goes down, the tax-neutral rate goes up, and vice versa.

The additional $95 per year assumes the property assessment stayed the same, at $100,000, in the five-year reappraisals completed this year. [Read more…]


Five TN veterans, including Kallio of Oak Ridge, to receive French Legion of Honor

Melvin Kallio Family

Melvin Kallio, center, received a Bronze Star on Monday, April 6, 2015, 70 years after he fought in Colmar Pocket in France during World War II, south of the Battle of the Bulge. Kallio is pictured above with family and Congressman Chuck Fleischmann. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


Oak Ridge resident and World War II veteran Melvin E. Kallio is one of five Tennessee veterans who will receive the prestigious Legion of Honor Medal from France in a ceremony in Nashville in October.

“As an expression of France’s eternal gratitude to those who liberated it from oppression from 1944-1945, the Consul General of France to the U.S. Southeast, Denis Barbet, will bestow the Legion of Honor upon five WWII veterans from Tennessee,” said a press release from the Consulate General of France in Atlanta.

The National Order of the Legion of Honor is the highest honor conferred upon a French or foreign national in France. It was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, and it recognizes eminent services to the French Republic.

American veterans who risked their lives during World War II and who fought on French territory qualify to be decorated as Knights of the Legion of Honor. Veterans must have fought in one of the four main campaigns of the Liberation of France: Normandy, Provence, Ardennes, or Northern France. Recipients of this honor are designated by the President of the Republic, François Hollande.

Kallio, who said he was 92 in April, fought in Colmar Pocket. He was a machine gunner in the 12th Armored Division, and he and other soldiers had been ready to fight at the Battle of the Bulge. [Read more…]

WYSH: Roane Commission passes tax increase

Roane County Courthouse

The Roane County Courthouse in Kingston is pictured above. (File photo)


Information from WYSH Radio

The Roane County Commission approved a property tax rate increase at its meeting Monday night by a vote of 8-6.

Property taxes will go up by about 30 cents per $100 of assessed value. The increase was needed to support the fiscal budget.

Commissioners approved the county’s budget back in July. Twenty-two cents of the tax increase will go toward the county schools. County Executive Ron Woody said commission members knew the schools needed the money.

Approval of the property tax comes after months of waiting for the state to finish its assessments after the state comptroller’s office took over for the Roane County Assessor’s Office.

BBB-TV owner Ron Berry was elected commission chairman on Monday, and Harriman’s Randy Ellis was elected to his fifth term as vice chairman.

Council doesn’t change Secret City Festival date, leaves it up to new nonprofit board

City Council Chuck Hope, Warren Gooch, and Ellen Smith on Sept. 14, 2015

Pictured above at the Oak Ridge City Council meeting on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, when changes to the annual Secret City Festival were made, are Council members Chuck Hope, left, Mayor Warren Gooch, and Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Smith. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


Note: This story was updated at 10:36 a.m.

They’ve heard concerns about moving it to the fall, and the Oak Ridge City Council on Monday did not change the date of the annual Secret City Festival. Instead, Council left any potential date change up to a new nonprofit board that could be appointed in October.

It was one of a series of steps meant to make the Secret City Festival less costly for the city and less labor-intensive for the municipal staff, to rethink how it’s organized, and to make it self-sustaining. The festival could be incorporated into a new, expanded Secret City Celebration that could include other events.

A Special Events Advisory Task Force appointed by City Council in February had recommended moving the festival to the fall as part of a celebration that would last at least a week, start in October, and continue through Veterans Day, November 11.

But Council members and a few residents laid out some objections to the proposed date change, including “dicey weather” in the fall; the potentially cold temperatures, especially for nighttime concerts; conflicts with football and other fall events; and concerns over the possibility that the festival could again become saturated with political candidates in election years, now that municipal elections have been moved to November. There were also concerns about whether some organizations that now participate in the June festival, including artists and World War II re-enactors, could take part in the fall. [Read more…]

AC chancellor intervenes in Andersonville Fire Dept. squabble

Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department

Information from WYSH Radio

Earlier this month, Anderson County Chancellor Nichole Cantrell made a ruling in the dispute between two factions of the Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department.

Earlier this year, then-AVFD Chief Del Kennedy suspended the Board of Directors over allegations that they were interfering in the day-to-day operations of the department.

Kennedy then appointed an interim board to oversee the department. That led to the department’s mail delivery service being interrupted and its bank accounts being frozen over questions about who was authorized to use it.

The chairman of the suspended board, David Farmer, asked the Chancery Court to step in. On September 4, Chancellor Cantrell ruled in favor of the suspended board following a hearing that morning. That meant that the board consisting of Farmer, Carl Poore, Robert Seiber, Benny Ridenour, Judy Lenz, Gina Ridenour, John Poore, and Rodney Williams was reinstated. [Read more…]

Notice of Public Comment: CDBG performance, evaluation report for 2014-2015

Equal Housing Opportunity Logo

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)City of Oak Ridge

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Entitlement Program

City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee



Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Report (CAPER) for

CDBG Program Year 2014 / City of Oak Ridge Fiscal Year 2015

Notice is hereby given by the City of Oak Ridge that the Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER) 2014-2015 has been drafted and will be made available to the public for review for a period of 15 days. A copy of the draft will be posted on the City of Oak Ridge’s Community Development website or a physical copy of the draft can be obtained by request to the Community Development office (200 S. Tulane Ave., Oak Ridge, TN  37830) after 12 PM, Thursday, September 10, 2015.

Notice is also hereby given that the City of Oak Ridge will hold a public meeting regarding the CAPER 2014-2015 on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 6 PM in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building’s Training Room. The Municipal Building is located at 200 S. Tulane Ave, Oak Ridge, TN  37830. [Read more…]

Council could consider changes to Secret City Festival tonight, including move to fall

Secret City Festival World War II Re-enactment 2015

A Flak 88 firing during a Battle of Normandy re-enactment at the 2015 Secret City Festival in Oak Ridge. (Photo by Rob Welton)


The Oak Ridge City Council could consider changes to the Secret City Festival tonight, including an expansion and a possible move to the fall.

The annual festival could be expanded into a celebration that could start in October and run through Veterans Day (November 11), last at least a week, and include the Secret City Festival. The expanded festival—which now includes music, children’s activities, a World War II re-enactment, and vendors and exhibitors—could be called the Secret City Celebration.

The changes have been recommended by the Special Events Advisory Task Force, which was set up by City Council in February and chaired by Council member Trina Baughn. The task force was expected to meet for six months and then provide a report to Council.

“The idea is not to limit the celebration to a single event, but to incorporate other activities over an expanded period of time that allow for greater participation by both patrons and various organizations within the community,” Baughn said in an August 5 memo to City Council. [Read more…]

DOE, TDEC, scientist to discuss environmental management at Sept. 22 seminar

Sue Cange

Sue Cange

A scientist and speakers from the U.S. Department of Energy and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will discuss environmental management during a September 22 seminar. It’s the second of three new Community School seminars.

The September 22 seminar will feature Susan Cange, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management; Ellen Smith, environmental scientist and Oak Ridge City Council member; and Chris Thompson, deputy director of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, September 22, at the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church at 809 Oak Ridge Turnpike.

Cange will introduce the DOE Environmental Management program, a press release said. Smith will present on the contaminants released and left behind from the federal government activities in Oak Ridge. Thompson will provide an overview of the monitoring of DOE’s activities in the Oak Ridge Reservation relative to public safety and the environment. [Read more…]

Tunnell, former alternate city judge, oldest practicing attorney in TN, dies at 95

William Lawrence Tunnell

William Lawrence Tunnell

William Lawrence Tunnell, an alternate Oak Ridge city judge who was believed to be the oldest practicing attorney in Tennessee, died September 5. He was 95.

His family will have a receiving of friends for Tunnell, who was also a World War II veteran, on Tuesday, September 15.

Earlier this year, Tunnell was said to be the oldest judge in Tennessee.

Tunnell was born and raised in the Marlow community, according to his obituary. He was a faithful member of Poplar Creek Baptist Church and most recently attended Batley Baptist Church, his obituary said. He was proud of his farm in Marlow.

Tunnell graduated as the valedictorian from the last class at Robertsville High School in 1942. [Read more…]

TDOT: Replacing ‘green bridge’ on US 25W in Clinton could cost $18.8 million

Hon. William Everette Lewallen Memorial Bridge

The Hon. William Everette Lewallen Memorial Bridge on US 25W in Clinton is pictured above. Also known as “the green bridge,” it could cost $18.8 million to replace, state officials said Thursday. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)


Replacing the Lewallen Bridge—known as “the green bridge” to locals—on US 25W in Clinton could cost $18.8 million, state officials said Thursday.

The bridge, officially known as the Hon. William Everette Lewallen Memorial Bridge, crosses over the Clinch River, and it connects downtown Clinton to South Clinton.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation said preliminary plans are under development to replace the major bridge, which connects the main route from Clinton to Knoxville. South of Clinton, the road is known as Clinton Highway.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer gave an update on that and other projects when they sat down with local and state officials in Knoxville on Thursday to discuss the region’s transportation and infrastructure needs, a press release said. [Read more…]