Alexander: Red Team Review of UPF could be model for other DOE projects

Uranium Processing Facility

Pictured above is the proposed Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 National Security Complex, with the administrative area in the front and the fortified section of the building in the rear. (Submitted image)

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander on Wednesday called for a special Senate hearing on whether an ongoing review of the Uranium Processing Facility in Oak Ridge could serve as a model to improve oversight of U.S. Department of Energy projects, a press release said.

In a hearing held by the Appropriations Subcommittee for Energy and Water Development, of which he is the lead Republican, Alexander noted that Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is currently conducting a “Red Team” review of UPF. Mason’s Red Team members are using the same process that has made the Office of Science the only office in DOE that successfully manages efficient and cost-effective projects, said Alexander, a Tennessee Republican. [Read more...]

Oak Ridge Chamber has candidate events April 10, April 22

Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce

The Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce is pictured above.

The Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce is hosting a series of events to allow voters to meet candidates and hear where they stand on issues of importance to the community, a press release said. The first session will be held Thursday, April 10, at 7:30 a.m. at the chamber.

The Chamber will host candidates for the office of Seventh District chancellor and Juvenile Court judge at Thursday’s event, the press release said. Chamber members and the public are invited to attend.

The following candidates have confirmed their plans to be in attendance: [Read more...]

Retired Air Force general confirmed as NNSA administrator

Retired Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz of the U.S. Air Force is pictured above in a Sept. 16, 2009, speech. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

Retired Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz of the U.S. Air Force is pictured above in a Sept. 16, 2009, speech. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

Acting Administrator Bruce Held returns to associate deputy secretary position

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed a retired U.S. Air Force general as the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the nuclear weapons work at the Y-12 National Security Complex and other federal sites.

Retired Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz is also the Energy Department’s under secretary for nuclear security.

Acting NNSA Administrator Bruce Held will return to his position as associate deputy secretary, a press release said.

“Lt. Gen. Klotz’s confirmation comes at a critical point for the National Nuclear Security Administration,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said. “His breadth of military and national security leadership experience makes him uniquely suited to lead the NNSA, fulfilling its commitments to the management and security of the nation’s nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, naval reactor programs, and nuclear and radiological emergency preparedness efforts. [Read more...]

Highway 116 improvements still planned, schedule uncertain

Information from WYSH Radio

Following up on a story we first brought you last year, the state is still in the planning stages of making safety improvements to an 11-mile stretch of Highway 116 in Anderson County from Frost Bottom to the Campbell County line.

A safety audit conducted in 2012 by state and local officials showed that in some spots, lanes are too narrow, in others there are no guardrails, and in still other areas, the shoulder is actually less than a foot wide. Slope stability issues were also blamed for some cracking and uneven settling of the pavement. Some spots that have been resurfaced do not have pavement markings and in other areas, rock outcroppings and other hazards are “too close to the roadway for comfort.”

The Tennessee Department of Transportation has recommended paving the entire stretch of Highway 116, widening the shoulders in some places, and adding guardrails, pavement markings, and signage to the roadway as part of the effort to make the road safer. TDOT says that it will also reduce the speed limit on that sometimes-dangerous stretch of road to 35 miles per hour. [Read more...]

Anderson County to be awarded $64K in tobacco settlement money

John Dreyzehner

John Dreyzehner

Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner will join other state and local officials on Friday, April 11, at the Anderson County Health Department in Clinton to present $64,600 in funding as part of the Tennessee Tobacco Settlement Program.

Each county in Tennessee will receive funding during this three-year program to reduce the burden of tobacco use in the state. All counties are challenged to set goals and select one or more projects that address three topics: eliminating smoking during pregnancy, reducing infants’ and children’s exposure to second-hand smoke, and preventing child and adolescent tobacco use. Anderson County will implement first-year projects targeting each of these three focus areas.

Funding from the Tobacco Settlement was provided to the Tennessee Department of Health for fiscal years 2014-16 to address the state’s high rate of tobacco use and prevent expensive related medical costs. The plan to distribute $15 million over three years has been generated with input from all 95 counties. This plan includes a variety of projects to target behaviors designed to protect the health of Tennessee’s most vulnerable populations: unborn babies, pregnant women, and children.

Republican forum: Issues range from jobs, retail to drug courts, trial experience

Anderson County Republican Party Forum

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, center, gives an opening statement during a Tuesday night candidate forum for Republican Party candidates. Also pictured are Anderson County Commissioner Zach Bates, left, who is challenging Frank in the May 6 GOP primary, and Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Randy Myers, one of two Republican candidates for sheriff.

Note: This story was last updated at 11:45 a.m.

The starkest differences between any candidates at a Tuesday night Republican Party forum might have emerged in the race for Anderson County chancellor, where candidates Michael Farley and Nicki Cantrell clashed on questions of trial experience and whether the Chancery Court should ever be used to hear criminal cases.

In the race for sheriff, Republican candidates Anthony Lay and Randy Myers agreed on one key question: No federal inmates should be housed at the Anderson County jail.

In the race for mayor, Terry Frank, the incumbent, said she had presided over one of the few—and possibly the only—tax cut in Anderson County history, while her opponent, Commissioner Zach Bates, said the county’s biggest economic challenge is “retail leakage.” [Read more...]

Without Republicans, little opposition, few questions at League forum

David Dunkirk and J. Michael Clement

David R. Dunkirk, left, and J. Michael Clement, Democratic candidates for Juvenile Court judge in the May 6 Anderson County primary election, answer questions during a candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge on Tuesday. (Photo by Sara Wise)

Note: This story was last updated at 9:10 a.m.

There was little opposition and only a few questions at a Tuesday night candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge.

All of the Democratic candidates were at the League forum, which was held in the Pollard Auditorium at Oak Ridge Associated Universities.

But most of the Republican candidates were a few blocks away at their own forum, and none of them attended the League forum. Still, many sent representatives to speak on their behalf.

The dueling forums were held with less than a month remaining before the May 6 primary election. Most of the competition is on the Republican side, with more than one GOP candidate for mayor, sheriff, chancellor, and Juvenile Court judge. The only contested Democratic race is for juvenile judge. [Read more...]

ORCVB board elects new officers

Aaron Wells

Aaron Wells

The Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors elected a new slate of officers at its regularly scheduled meeting in February. Aaron Wells was elected chairperson, Mark Harvey will serve as vice chairperson, and Patti Shelton will serve as secretary/treasurer, a press release said. They will each hold their respective positions until January 2015.

The board is comprised of seven community volunteers and three hotel representatives, and it is appointed by the Oak Ridge City Council. Remaining members are Carol Smallridge, Mary Ann Damos, Hugh Ward, Troy Patel, Gretchen Julius, and Misty Williams. There is currently one vacancy.

The ORCVB is a nonprofit organization, formed to strengthen the area economy through the marketing and promotion of Oak Ridge as a destination for meetings, business, and leisure travel. Visit them online at oakridgevisitor.com or call (865) 482-7821 for more information.

Council member asks for removal of city board member over e-mail ‘contempt’

Oak Ridge City Council

Pictured above, the Oak Ridge City Council on Monday will consider removing housing board member Joe Lee, not pictured, because of a critical e-mail he wrote after a 4-3 vote on the controversial traffic camera contract in March.

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

An Oak Ridge official wants the City Council to consider removing Joseph Lee from a city housing board because of his criticism—she called it contempt—for the council members who voted against renewing the controversial traffic camera contract in March.

The City Council will consider removing Lee, who serves on the Oak Ridge Board of Building and Housing Code Appeals, during a Monday, April 14, meeting.

“I was not at all surprised by the 4-3 vote,” Lee wrote in a March 28 e-mail to Council member Anne Garcia Garland, who made the request to consider removing him on Monday. ”After all, it was not about safety or the money, it is about the votes. Take the fact that your entire campaign to be elected to city council and combine that with the nut jobs that you are aligned with and cater to, it has been obvious for a very long time that we were never going to hear the end of your whining until you got another shot at this issue. [Read more...]

Friends host ‘meet and greet’ for judicial candidate Ryan Spitzer

Ryan Spitzer

Ryan Spitzer

Friends of Ryan Spitzer, a candidate for General Sessions Judge Division 1, will host a “meet and greet” and fundraising reception for Spitzer from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, April 7, at Hensley Happenings Cafe and Grill in Norris.

The event is hosted by George and Kay Davis, Catherine Denenberg, Susan Fowler, Warren and Judy Gooch, C.A. and Judy Ridge, and Jim Ed and Sharon Wallace. They invite voters to come by and meet Spitzer, an attorney who has more than a decade of legal experience in criminal and civil law, a press release said. Refreshments will be served.

Spitzer has served as an assistant district attorney general in Anderson County since 2007. He is unopposed as the Democratic candidate for General Sessions judge in the May 6 primary election. [Read more...]

Voters can meet candidates for contested Anderson County offices on April 15

Democracy for East Tennessee

From left to right, DFET members Charles Jones, Joan Cassens, and Tom Burns review the 2014 Anderson County primary ballot while planning a “meet the candidate” event. (Submitted photo)

Democracy for East Tennessee has organized an April 15 event that will allow Anderson County voters the chance to meet candidates for four county offices before the May 6 primary election.

The four contested races are for Anderson County mayor, sheriff, chancellor, and Juvenile Court judge. Other offices on the primary ballot are not contested.

The “meet the candidates” event is scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, in the Oak Ridge Civic Center’s A/B Room.

“Democracy for East Tennessee is sponsoring this event so citizens of Anderson County can become better acquainted with the candidates for four Anderson County offices before the primary election on May 6,” the organization said in a press release. [Read more...]

City board to consider demolition of homes on Wade Lane, West Outer Drive

An Oak Ridge board on Thursday will consider ordering the demolition of five homes that could be bought by the city. The homes are at 105 Waddell Place, 101 and 117 Wade Lane, and 335 and 363 West Outer Drive.

The homes on Wade Lane and West Outer Drive are owned by Carden Rentals Limited Partnership. The Waddell Place house is owned by Rex Gass. The owners are interested in selling the properties to the city, the municipal staff said.

The Gass property is a vacant single-family dwelling, and the Carden homes are vacant multi-family residential units.

The city staff has recommended that the Oak Ridge Board of Building and Housing Code Appeals declare the homes unfit for human occupation or use, and order them demolished within 90 days to possibly allow the city to acquire them. The board meets at 3 p.m. Thursday in the Municipal Building Training Room. [Read more...]