No same-sex marriage licenses issued in Anderson County yet

Jeff Cole

Jeff Cole

Note: This story was updated at 4:51 p.m.

The Anderson County Clerk received a few inquiries after the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage on Friday, but the office hasn’t issued any licenses yet, an official said Saturday.

Tennessee officials had prepared county clerks for the landmark 5-4 decision. An email from the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office advised county clerks that Friday’s ruling made it legal for same-sex couples to marry. County clerks in the state’s 95 counties were advised to comply promptly, and implementing the federal court’s decision began immediately.

Anderson County Clerk Jeff Cole said residents could get same-sex marriage licenses starting at about 1 p.m. Friday (June 26), after county clerks received guidance on the issue.

“We had a few phone calls, but we didn’t issue any licenses yesterday,” Cole said Saturday. [Read more…]

Area lawmakers announce $72,190 in Anderson County arts grants

Tennessee legislators announced Friday that seven arts grants worth $72,190 have been awarded to six organizations in Anderson County.

The recipients include the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, Oak Ridge Community Playhouse, Oak Ridge Civic Music Association, Oak Ridge Community Art Center, Tennessee Mountain Writers, and Appalachian Arts Craft Center.

The grants include two grants with a combined total of $20,800 for the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge in the categories of Arts Education-Community Learning and Partnership Support.

The other grants include: [Read more…]

Roane County issues first same-sex marriage license

Roane County Courthouse

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


Note: This story was last updated at 4:30 p.m.

Roane County issued its first same-sex marriage license on Friday afternoon, just a few hours after the U.S. Supreme Court backed gay marriage in a landmark 5-4 ruling.

The Roane County license was issued to two women at about 3 p.m. Friday, Roane County Clerk Barbara Anthony said. She said she can’t identify the two women.

Anthony declined to comment on the Supreme Court’s decision, which was celebrated in some circles and criticized in others.

“We just comply with the law,” Anthony said. [Read more…]


Independence Day Fireworks Celebration at A.K. Bissell Park

July 4, 2012 Fireworks

The Independence Day fireworks show in Oak Ridge has been scheduled for 10 p.m. Saturday, July 4, at A.K. Bissell Park. (Photo by Charles Samuels)


The fireworks display sponsored by the City of Oak Ridge will begin at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 4. The display will be shot from A.K. Bissell Park.

The fireworks will be accompanied by music played live on-site by Merle 96.7 FM. Radio host Jack Ryan will be transmitting live from the park beginning at 6 p.m. and will conclude the live broadcast with a patriotic medley as the fireworks are shot.

The countdown to the fireworks begins at 9:30 p.m. Listeners can tune their radios to 96.7 Merle FM and enjoy the show.

The Oak Ridge Community Band will perform its annual Fourth of July concert at the A.K. Bissell Park Pavilion beginning at 7:30 p.m. [Read more…]

Oak Ridge Municipal Pool hosts swim challenge

The Oak Ridge Municipal Swimming pool is having a swim challenge.

The pool is open 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Monday through Friday for lap swimming the 100-meter course only, a press release said. If you would like to participate, come swim the 100-meter course and post your mileage.

Last year Claudia and Tom Raudorf, Jim Brant, Christy Buzzard, and Anne Roush all completed the 50-mile-plus swim by posting their laps on the Swimming Down the Clinch poster at the pool.

For more information about this program and others, contact the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department at (865) 425-3450 or

Appeals court rules in favor of Covenant Health, other defendants in excessive radiation lawsuit

Methodist Medical Center Main Entrance

A three-judge appeals court panel has ruled in favor of Covenant Health and two other defendants in five lawsuits that alleged that the absence of shielding in part of the emergency department at Methodist Medical Center exposed five X-ray and radiologic technologists, including two who were pregnant, to excessive radiation.

The unanimous opinions by the three Tennessee Court of Appeals judges—D. Michael Swiney, John W. McClarty, and Thomas R. Frierson II—were filed June 9 in Knoxville. They affirmed an order by Anderson County Circuit Court Judge Donald R. Elledge granting a summary judgement in favor of the defendants: Covenant Health, Rentenbach Engineering Company, and TEG Architects LLC.

The lawsuits were filed in January 2014 by Connie Raby, Keith Gillis, Michael Phillips, Mary Ridenour on behalf of her and her child, and Micah Noelle Lewellen on behalf of her and her child.

The lawsuits alleged that the technologists were exposed to excess radiation for several years at Methodist Medical Center because some walls in and around a radiology imaging center in the new emergency department, which opened in February 2006 as part of a hospital remodel, were built without the required lead shielding, elevating the workers’ risk of health problems, including cancer. [Read more…]

Tennessee Court of Appeals affirms dismissal of ouster suit filed against AC law director

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 in the complaint, during an Anderson County Commission meeting in July 2014. (File photo)


Note: This story was last updated at 3:25 p.m.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed the decision of a trial court to dismiss an ouster complaint filed against Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager.

Twenty-two Anderson County residents tried to remove Yeager, who was appointed law director in September 2006, from his office under Tennessee’s ouster law. The complaint was originally filed in Anderson County Chancery Court in May 2014 and amended the next month.

The Anderson County Chancery Court issued an order granting Yeager’s motion to dismiss on September 22, 2014, but the case was appealed. On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the court, which heard oral arguments in April, upheld the trial court’s decision to grant the motion to dismiss, which was issued by Special Judge Don R. Ash.

“I deeply appreciate the County Commission and the Legal Services Advisory Committee for their continued support and confidence during these very difficult times for myself and my family,” Yeager said Thursday morning. [Read more…]

Secret City Festival growing, evolving, but not ending, officials say

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)


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

A rumor that circulated widely this month said this was going to be the last year for the Secret City Festival.

But city officials said it’s premature to say that.

It is true that a Special Events Advisory Task Force has been studying changes to the annual festival, including moving it from June and making it into an expanded celebration in the fall, starting in October and continuing through Veterans Day (November 11). It could be renamed the Secret City Celebration, implemented by a new nonprofit expected to become self-sustaining within five years, and add events while continuing to include the Secret City Festival.

At a Wednesday evening meeting, Task Force members said many of the current festival activities could continue, including music, World War II re-enactments, historical displays, and children’s activities. But they also said there could be opportunities for new partnerships with other organizations, including Wounded Warriors and Oak Ridge Playhouse. And it’s not clear that the Secret City Festival would continue to be a two-day event.

Task Force members say they’re hoping to help create something bigger and better. [Read more…]

Anderson County teachers disappointed as commissioners delay vote on budget, pay raise

Anderson County Budget Committee and Rachel Minardo, Chris Phillips, and Connie Aytes

Rachel Minardo, right, a first-grade teacher at Claxton Elementary School and president of the Anderson County Education Association, asks for a 4 percent pay raise for county teachers and school staff during a May 28 public hearing on the county budget. Also pictured are Chris Phillips, left, director of accounts and budgets for Anderson County, and Connie Aytes, deputy budget director.


CLINTON—Anderson County teachers were disappointed as they watched county commissioners postpone a vote on the budget and a possible 4 percent pay raise on Tuesday.

But they’ll be back on Monday, June 29, for the next meeting of the Anderson County Commission, said Rachel Minardo, a first-grade teacher at Claxton Elementary School and president of the Anderson County Education Association.

It’s not clear if the 16-member Commission will agree to fund the school system’s request for a 4 percent raise for all teachers and staff. That’s what the Anderson County Board of Education unanimously recommended last month. The request could require the equivalent of an 18-cent increase in the property tax rate.

But during debate over proposed pay raises for some county employees on Tuesday, several commissioners said they want to be consistent and fair to all workers. [Read more…]

NAACP has forum on voting rights restoration on Thursday

Tom Marshall

Tom Marshall

Have you been convicted of a crime and are now unable to vote, or having trouble getting a job?

On Thursday, the Oak Ridge/Anderson County chapter of the NAACP will present the first in a series of public forums designed to help you. The forum starts at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 25, at Spurgeon Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church at 100 South Benedict Avenue in Oak Ridge.

Tom Marshall, District 7 Public Defender, will provide information on how people having served their sentence can potentially get their voting right restored and their record expunged, a press release said. Additional agencies are providing information. [Read more…]

Food for Fines at Clinton Public Library

Patrons can take advantage of the “Food for Fines” program at the Clinton Public Library from July 6 to July 11.

“Bring in an unexpired, nonperishable food item for each dollar you have in overdue fines, and your fines will be forgiven,” a press release said.

All donations will benefit the Anderson County Community Action Commission.

Clinton Public Library is located at 118 South Hicks Street in Clinton.  Call (865) 457-0519 for more information about the program.

Record crowds: Secret City Festival was ‘tremendous success’

Secret City Festival Concert 2015

A concert crowd at the 2015 Secret City Festival in Oak Ridge. (Photo by Robert Welton)


The 2015 Oak Ridge Secret City Festival drew record attendance, despite the heat, organizers said. Concerts by the Marshall Tucker Band and Three Dog Night attracted the highest number of spectators in festival history.

“We were ecstatic with the turnout for both concerts,” says, Marc DeRose, executive director of the Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We knew the bands would be popular but didn’t expect to see quite so many people. It was outstanding!”

Attendances for The Marshall Tucker Band and Three Dog Night were more than 2,200 and more than 3,500, respectively. The previous record was 2,300 for the Rick Springfield concert in 2013.

“After seeing how many tickets were sold at the gate for Friday’s Marshall Tucker concert, we decided to move the concert fences back to accommodate the expected additional 1,000-plus spectators for Three Dog Night,” DeRose said. [Read more…]