Obama’s visit: Education, manufacturing, a chance to see the president

President Barack Obama at Pellissippi State Community College

President Barack Obama announces a proposal to offer two years of free community college to responsible students during a half-hour speech at Pellissippi State Community College in Hardin Valley on Friday. (Photo by Rob Welton)


Note: This story was last updated at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 15.

HARDIN VALLEY—It was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for some, a chance to shake hands with the president of the United States of America or wave at his heavily guarded motorcade as it passed by on a local roadway.

For others, it was a chance to hear about a presidential proposal modeled after a Tennessee program that would make the first two years of community college free to students who maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average. That proposal, officially announced at Pellissippi State Community College in Hardin Valley on Friday, expands on the 20th century idea that all children in the United States are entitled to a public education. In the 21st century economy, the White House said, 12 years of school is no longer enough.

For a much-smaller group, Friday’s visit by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and his wife Jill Biden offered an opportunity to hear an in-person announcement of a new advanced manufacturing hub, the country’s fifth, that will be led by the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and have Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a founding partner. That announcement at Techmer PM in Clinton was highlighted by a 3-D printed carbon fiber replica of a Shelby Cobra that the president joked about receiving for his birthday. [Read more…]

Anderson County hires Alternatives to Incarceration director

Anderson County Detention Facility

The Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton is pictured above.

Information from WYSH Radio

Anderson County is one step closer to having a full-time director for its Alternatives to Incarceration program.

Last week, the committee in charge of finding someone to head the department unanimously recommended hiring Clinton resident Mary Young to fill the position. She will be responsible for finding ways to reduce the jail population through programs that could include expanded use of electronic monitoring devices, “day reporting” (described as a way to have offenders work on community projects during the day while still sleeping in their own beds at night), and offering more classes like anger management to help offenders deal with some of the underlying issues that led to their arrests and subsequent incarcerations.

Young will operate out of the Anderson County jail and officials say that she has worked in a similar program in California. She is expected to begin work on February 2. [Read more…]

Now Senate education chair, Alexander announces plan to ‘fix’ No Child Left Behind

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

“During the last six years, this committee has held 24 hearings and reported two bills to the Senate floor to fix the law’s problems. We should be able to finish our work within the first few weeks of 2015 so the full Senate can act.” —Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander has announced a plan to fix the No Child Left Behind law, wrapping up six years of committee work and sending a bill to the Senate floor within the first few weeks of 2015, the senator’s office said Tuesday.

Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, announced his plan on the Senate floor, a press release said.

“No Child Left Behind has become unworkable—and fixing this law, which expired over seven years ago, will be the first item on the agenda for the Senate education committee,” Alexander said. “I look forward to input from all sides on this proposal as we move forward with a bipartisan process that will keep the best portions of the law, while restoring responsibility to states and local communities and ensuring that all 50 million students in our nation’s 100,000 public schools can succeed.” [Read more…]

Pellissippi State transcript: Obama proposes free community college for two years

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama


This is a transcript of remarks made by President Barack Obama at Pellissippi State Community College in Hardin Valley in west Knox County on Friday, January 9. The president was at Pellissippi State to announce a proposal that would make community college free for two years to responsible students across the country. The proposal is modeled on the relatively new Tennessee Promise.

Friday’s visit was the first by a president to Pellissippi State.

Pellissippi State Community College

Knoxville, Tennessee

2:05 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Hey!  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Please have a seat.  Well, it is good to be back in Tennessee.  I hope you guys aren’t getting tired of me.  I’ve been coming around a lot lately, because there’s a lot of good stuff happening here.

I want to begin by thanking Joe and Jill Biden.  They’re not just good friends and good partners, but they really believe in the power of education and they really believe in creating those kinds of ladders of opportunity that gave all three of us and Michelle the chances, the incredible opportunities that we’ve had today.  And they understand the promise of America’s community colleges.  Well, Jill really understands it, and Joe — (laughter) — he doesn’t really have a choice.

Before I get into the reason that I’m here today, I want to begin by saying just a few words about the tragic events that we’ve watched unfold in France over the last several hours and days.  And because events have been fast-moving this morning, I wanted to make sure to comment on them. [Read more…]

Guest column: President Obama’s manufacturing announcement—what it means for UT, ORNL, East Tennessee

Jimmy Cheek and Martin Keller and Shelby Cobra

University of Tennessee Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek, right, stands with Martin Keller, associate laboratory director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in front of a Shelby Cobra printed as a collaboration between ORNL and UT personnel. The car served as a highlight of President Obama’s visit to the area on Friday. (Photo courtesy UT) 


KNOXVILLE—President Obama’s announcement on Friday that the University of Tennessee in Knoxville would be the lead institution in a $259 million advanced composites manufacturing project known as the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, or IACMI, was met with applause, but also a few questions.

Many wondered what advanced composites manufacturing really means, why the UT-led consortium was selected, and what the impact for the area might be.

Here are some answers.

What is IACMI?

IACMI is the newest federally funded institute for manufacturing innovation. Its focus is on advancing innovation in the manufacturing of composites used in automobiles, wind turbines, and compressed gas storage tanks. [Read more…]

Family Day at the Civic Center on Valentines Day

The Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department will host the Third Annual Family Day at the Civic Center on February 14 from noon to 4 p.m.

All activities except public swim and concessions will be free, a press release said. Concession items will include hot dogs, nachos, chips, juice, and soft drinks. A free cookie decorating activity will be offered.

Discounted public swim times, in 30-minute increments, will be offered for $1. Children 2 and under are free. The public swim is open to everyone and is scheduled at the indoor swimming pool from 12:30-1 p.m., 1:15-1:45 p.m., 2-2:30 p.m., and 2:45-3:15 p.m. [Read more…]

Sewer rehab work continues week of Jan. 12

More rehabilitation work of the city’s sewer collection pipes is scheduled to continue this week, starting Monday, January 12.

The work is being done by Hurst Excavating Morgan Contracting, 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…]

President Obama’s trip to East Tennessee explained

President Barack Obama, Sen. Bob Corker, Sen. Lamar Alexander, and Rep. John Duncan at Air Force One

President Barack Obama, front; U.S. senators Lamar Alexander, second, and Bob Corker, third; and Representative John J. Duncan Jr. arrive at McGhee Tyson Airport in Alcoa on Air Force One at about noon Friday. (Photo by Julio Culiat)


Before President Obama landed in East Tennessee on Friday, a spokesman explained the purpose of the trip to reporters. The 5.5-hour visit included stops at Pellissippi State Community College in Hardin Valley and manufacturer Techmer PM in Clinton. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Congressman John J. Duncan Jr. were guests, and so was Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

Eric Schultz, principal deputy press secretary, told reporters on Air Force One that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill would unveil the president’s plan to make two years of community college free for all responsible students no matter their age during the East Tennessee trip. It was a preview of a “cornerstone” of the president’s State of the Union to Congress on January 20.

Separately, during a stop in Clinton, the president announced a manufacturing innovation hub that involves the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. [Read more…]

Photos: Air Force One at McGhee Tyson

Air Force One at McGhee Tyson Airport

Air Force One is pictured at McGhee Tyson Airport in Alcoa on Friday. (Photos by Julio Culiat)


Air Force One landed at McGhee Tyson Airport in Alcoa at about noon Friday, carrying President Obama and three Republican legislators from Tennessee: senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Representative John Duncan. It left at about 5:30 p.m. Air Force Two, carrying Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill, followed.

The three visited Pellissippi State Community College in west Knox County and Techmer PM in Clinton to announce education and manufacturing proposals. It was the first visit by any president to Pellissippi State and Clinton, and it was Obama’s first visit to the Knoxville area.

Here are four pictures of Air Force One and President Obama by Julio Culiat. [Read more…]

Photos: President Obama’s motorcade in Oak Ridge

President Obama Limousine

President Obama is seen in the back of the presidential limousine. (Photo by John Westcott)


Many people took pictures and videos when President Obama’s motorcade passed through Oak Ridge, Clinton, and Anderson County on Friday afternoon.

Here are a few, including several by John Westcott and Betsy Prine.

The president traveled to East Tennessee—his first trip to the Knoxville area as president—to announce education and manufacturing proposals that will be presented in his State of the Union speech to Congress on January 20.

Announced at Pellissippi State Community College, the education proposal would provide two years of community college free to anyone who’s willing to work for it. [Read more…]

Obama visit spotlights sports car printed by UT engineers at ORNL

Shelby Cobra 3D Printed Cobra

University of Tennessee engineering students Andrew Messing and Alex Roschli printed this Shelby Cobra at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. The car was on stage during President Obama’s visit to Techmer PM in Clinton on Friday. (Photo courtesy UT)


CLINTON—President Obama took the stage at Techmer PM in Clinton on Friday to announce that the University of Tennessee in Knoxville will head a $259 million advanced manufacturing project and that Oak Ridge National Laboratory will play a key role. The president shared the spotlight with a shiny example of innovation, research, and collaboration between the two—a Shelby Cobra 3D printed car.

The car was highlighted during Obama’s visit as an example of the changing world of manufacturing. It was produced with major contributions from a pair of student interns from UT’s College of Engineering—Alex Roschli and Andrew Messing, a press release said.

Roschli and Messing, both seniors in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, are doing internships at ORNL, where the car was printed at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. [Read more…]

Inspired by Tennessee, Obama proposes free community college for two years

Bill Haslam at White House with Barack Obama

This is a screen shot from a White House video filmed during a September 23, 2011, event on No Child Left Behind. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, center, introduces President Barack Obama, right.


Inspired by programs in Tennessee and Chicago, President Barack Obama has unveiled a proposal to make two years of community college free for anyone who’s willing to work for it, the White House said Thursday.

The White House said 57,000 students representing almost 90 percent of the state’s high school graduating class applied for the Tennessee scholarship program, which is called Tennessee Promise, in the first year. It provides two years of community or technical college to graduating high school seniors free of tuition and fees.

The federal program is called America’s College Promise, and it could benefit roughly nine million students each year, officials said. A full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year.

The president is expected to announce the proposal in Knoxville on Friday, when he visits Pellissippi State Community College in Hardin Valley and manufacturer Techmer PM in Clinton. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill will join Obama on the East Tennessee trip. [Read more…]