Letter: Disgruntled by newspaper’s endorsement of Frank

To the Editor:

I read the July 19, 2014, News Sentinel daily, and I felt very disgruntled when you, a newspaper not located in Oak Ridge, is endorsing political people in Oak Ridge.

I like it when people think for me.

I thought it ironic that you supported Terry Frank as mayor of Anderson County.

I toured the new Anderson County jail extension that the state forced the county to build and how the county struggled with what would happen if state and federal funds were denied Anderson County citizens. [Read more...]

Letter: Biloski has skills necessary to be effective in District 8

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” was a philosophy that we were fortunate enough to have instilled within us growing up with Robin Biloski, our mom.

Even today, 35 years after Brian was born, there is never a moment when we see our mom sitting down and taking it easy. She has always embraced every new day and hit the ground running, trying to make our community a better place and our dreams come true.

When Mom first told us, more than a decade ago, that she intended to run for public office, we thought she lost her mind. As an avid volunteer with numerous organizations ranging from the League of Women Voters to S.A.R.G. and the Humane Society, to organizer of our school’s talent show, dance recitals, and A.C.A.C. events, Mom instilled in us her passion and commitment to community service. She is always willing to get involved in causes she believes in, but also gets behind ours as well. She has never failed to roll up her sleeves and get to work making friends wherever she went. We were fortunate and blessed to have her as a stay-at-home mom, and when she started branching out and demonstrating her professional success outside of the “Biloski household,” she exceeded every expectation that we had set for her. Her confidence and desire to help everyone provided us with a role model and the honorable distinction of knowing the only woman on Anderson County Commission for the past two terms. [Read more...]

Letter: Let’s return to civility, good government; vote for Hackworth

To the Editor:

To elect Jim Hackworth to the office of mayor of Anderson County would be a good and necessary thing. Jim is experienced in both state and local government, having served as county commissioner and state representative from the 33rd District.

He has a master’s degree in organizational management and has had leadership roles and recognition in consumer and employees affairs, utilities, and environmental protection.

By nature and from experience, Jim is calm and thoughtful in his deliberations.I know this because he and I served in county offices at the same time: he as county commissioner and I as circuit court clerk. When he became a state legislator, I kept up with his work for us in Nashville, and was pleased to see that he had positions of leadership. [Read more...]

Guest column: Clarification on Oak Ridge Schools’ administrative positions

Note: Due to a technical error, this Oak Ridge Schools press release did not publish earlier this month with a chart comparing the Oak Ridge and Maryville school districts. We did publish the chart, which you can see here.

There have been a lot of questions recently about the number of Oak Ridge Schools’ administrative positions.

On the state website, it gives the impression that Oak Ridge Schools has added multiple administrative positions between 2007 and 2013. If the numbers reported were correct, it would appear that the number of administrators increased by about 63 percent since 2007.

In reality, Oak Ridge Schools only reclassified one existing position to an administrative position in that time period. Why is there a discrepancy between district data and state reporting?

First, we need to define administrator. In Oak Ridge, administrators are defined as superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, vice principals, district directors, district supervisors, and district assistant supervisors. If you look at Oak Ridge Schools’ human resource files, we have had the following numbers of administrative positions between 2007 and 2013: [Read more...]

Letter: Biloski served well, urges voters to re-elect her

To the Editor:

I am honored to again be the treasurer for Robin Biloski’s campaign to be re-elected to the Anderson County Commission.

In her previous three terms, she has served us well, as the citizens of Oak Ridge and Anderson County.

I urge voters to re-elect her so that she can continue to serve us with her active concern for the very best for our communities.

Paul Spray

Oak Ridge

Letter from Prison: Y-12 protesters’ statement on second anniversary of break-in

Transform Now Plowshares

Note: This is a copy of a letter sent Monday from the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center by Sr. Megan Rice, on behalf of the Transform Now Plowshares.

We send warm greetings and many thanks to all who actively engage in the transformation of weapons of mass destruction to sustainable life-giving alternatives. Gregory Boertje-Obed (U.S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas) Michael Walli (Federal Correctional Institution McKean, Bradford, Pennsylvania), and I are sending you some of our observations and concerns on the second anniversary of our Transform Now Plowshares action.

On July 28, 2012, after thorough study of nuclear issues, and because of our deepening commitment to nonviolence, we engaged in direct action by cutting through four fences at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the U.S. continues to overhaul and upgrade thermonuclear warheads.

On that day, two years ago, when we reached the building where all U.S. highly enriched (bomb-grade) uranium is stored, we prayed and also wrote messages on the wall, such as “The Fruit of Justice is Peace.” (Realistically, the higher and stronger fences built as a result of our nonviolent incursion can never keep humans safe from inherently dangerous materials and weapons.) We acted humbly as “creative extremists for love,” to cite one of our most important and revered leaders, Martin Luther King Jr.

There are a number of reasons for what we did. We three were acutely mindful of the widespread loss to humanity that nuclear systems have already caused, and we realize that all life on Earth could be exterminated through intentional, accidental, or technical error. [Read more...]

Letter: Support stadium renovation, attend Temptations Revue

Randy McNally

Randy McNally

To the Editor:

One of Oak Ridge’s best assets is the tremendous support our community displays for our schools. Our citizens have greatly supported our schools, whether they are alumni or their children attend, or simply as a member of the community.

There is an upcoming event that needs our support which is a kickoff fundraiser for the renovation of the Jack Armstrong Stadium and Blankenship Field. This is the Temptations Revue, a musical featuring Nate Evans. It will be coming to Oak Ridge High School Auditorium on Saturday, August 9, at 7:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Oak Ridge Quarterback Club, with all proceeds going toward the stadium and field renovation project. [Read more...]

Letter: Legislature’s inaction on Medicaid has life-and-death consequences

To the Editor:

Some years ago, we cruised around on a small sailboat in the Pamlico Sound in North Carolina and spent one stormy night at the dock in Belhaven, N.C. So we perked up when we saw the mayor of Belhaven speak on the Lawrence O’Donnell Show on July 1 about the closing of the hospital there because the state will not expand Medicaid and the conglomerate that recently bought the hospital, instead of keeping its promises, for improvements, wants to close the hospital, leaving the residents of this Inner Banks town to fend for themselves and hope they can get to some other hospital from this remote small town when they have a heart attack or some other emergency.

The mayor of Belhaven says that the effect of closing the hospital in this town of 1,700 people is devastating economically to the town because of the number of people it has been employing, besides causing needless deaths among its citizenry.

I wonder if the state legislator for the 33rd District in Tennessee has given any thought to the real life-and-death consequences of the Tennessee Legislature’s inaction in expanding Medicaid. Is he aware that from one to three Tennesseans die each week because they do not have health care (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)? Is he aware that he and other legislators are literally responsible for the deaths of actual, real Tennesseans, economically disadvantaged people,who could be healthier and more productive if they were able to get health care on a regular basis? And who could expect just to live by getting health care? [Read more...]

Guest column: Not seeking re-election, DiGregorio offers advice to potential candidates

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have been on the Oak Ridge Board of Education since June 2005. My second term on this board is coming to a close in November, after what will be nine years and five months. But who’s counting?

I have decided not to seek re-election. On a personal level, I’m committed to term limits and shared responsibility. I should have been through in June of 2013, but a City Charter revision, through some smoke and mirrors, fixed things so that terms that should have expired in June of 2013 were extended to November 2014, an additional 17 months. Three current board members are in that situation.

Recently, I have been asked about “school boarding”—what the process is for running for a seat on the School Board, where do you register, how many signatures are required to be placed on the ballot, what a campaign would entail, and what time commitment it takes to serve on the School Board if elected. I am glad to provide this information and my opinions. I applaud anyone who wants to serve on a Board of Education. Public education is very important to me, this city, this state, and the nation.

There are three basic tasks for a BOE: policy, planning, and promotion. But the job is far more involved than that. Board members will not hire or fire any staff. Nor will they micromanage the work of any staff, including the superintendent. Collectively, the BOE has one employee—the superintendent.  The board hires him/her, and he/she does everything else. You do not work for the superintendent or the board, but working with those two, even if you disagree, will make things easier. Otherwise, the board may become dysfunctional. No community deserves a dysfunctional board of any kind. A 5-0 vote has the same effect as a 4-1 or 3-2 vote. The board speaks with one voice.

So: [Read more...]

Letter: State employees endorse Nolan in District 33 House race

NASHVILLE —The Tennessee Employees Action Movement proudly endorses Caitlin Nolan, R-Oak Ridge, in the race for the 33rd House District.

“We are delighted to endorse Caitlin Nolan’s campaign,” TEAM Administrative Committee Chairman Bryan Merritt said. “Caitlin understands that it is our state employees who make government work and that quality services for the citizens of Tennessee depend on a motivated, effective and efficient workforce. Caitlin Nolan is a leader that state employees can trust to carry their voice to Nashville, and that is why she has our support.”

TEAM is the political action arm of the Tennessee State Employees Association. Founded in 1974, TSEA represents the rights and interests of 40,000 state employees in Tennessee and has a rich history of improving the lives of its state employee members. For further information, visit TSEA’s website at www.tseaonline.org.

Letter: Supports Ragan, urges end to negative campaigning

To the Editor:

Never did I ever think I would be writing a letter to be published in a newspaper. However, I cannot sit idly by while my husband, Rep. John Ragan, is portrayed as anything but an honorable servant of his fellowmen.

We have been married for 43 years. He is the father of two wonderful children, and the grandfather of a precious little girl. He has supported our children in everything they ever wanted to do, even as he served on foreign shores to protect their freedoms and the freedoms of all our citizens.

He taught them through example the values of service beyond self. Furthermore, he demonstrated with action what it means to serve our fellow countrymen with honor, integrity, and honesty. He also taught them to revere our Heavenly Father and live each day for His glory. [Read more...]

Letter: Picks Clement based on experience, knowledge, compassion

To the Editor:

The children of Anderson County deserve the best juvenile judge Anderson County can offer. Careful thought must be given in the selection process to ensure our children will receive a proper review and disposition of their respective cases, starting with the first day the new judge is in office.

As a retired volunteer court-appointed special advocate (CASA), I approached my selection by first attending a forum to listen to each candidate present his experience and answer questions. I selected Mr. Clement based on his expressed experience and the quality of his answers to questions. I concluded he had the legal knowledge, juvenile court experience, life experience, and the compassion and tolerance along with a strong commitment to consider the need of the child first in all decisions.

I considered his opponent as ready for internship. [Read more...]