City budget raises trash fee, provides more for city infrastructure

Oak Ridge City Council 2014

The Oak Ridge City Council is pictured above in 2014. (Photo courtesy City of Oak Ridge)


Note: This story was last updated at 12:15 a.m. July 28.

There will be a $3.50 increase in the monthly trash fee, and more money—$260,000—will be reserved for capital projects such as buildings and schools, while city officials are not expected to change the new property tax rate provided by the state after five-year reappraisals completed this year.

The trash fee will increase from $7 to $10.50 per month. That change is expected to provide another $335,000 per year in revenue.

The new tax rate—state officials call it a tax-neutral rate—is $2.52 per $100 of assessed value. It was approved in the first of two readings by the Oak Ridge City Council during a three-hour special meeting on Monday. The second reading hasn’t been scheduled yet, but the meeting is expected soon. [Read more…]

Under Armour/Scott Stallings Championship golf tournament in Oak Ridge this week

Scott Stallings Championship at Oak Ridge Country Club (July 27-30, 2015)

Kimberlee Tottori, Amanda Doherty, Zach Miller, and Goodman Rudolph (not pictured) earn qualifier medalist honors at the Under Armour/Scott Stallings Championship at Oak Ridge Country Club on Sunday, July 26, 2015. (Photo courtesy American Junior Golf Association)


The Under Armour/Scott Stallings Championship is in Oak Ridge this week. The golf tournament is scheduled at the Oak Ridge Country Club from July 27-30.

It’s the second annual event, and it’s been organized by the American Junior Golf Association.

On Sunday, the tournament announced that 10 boys and two girls qualified.

Goodman Rudolph of Cordova, Tennessee, and Zach Miller of Richmond, Kentucky, both ­carded 3-under-par 69s to earn co-medalist honors Sunday at the AJGA Qualifier.

Amanda Doherty of Atlanta and Kimberlee Tottori of Las Vegas claimed co-medalist honors in the Girls Division with 1-under-par 71s at Oak Ridge Country Club. [Read more…]

Missing person found dead in hospital parking lot

Oak Ridge Police Department Logo

A person that had been reported missing was found dead in the parking lot at Methodist Medical Center on Sunday, authorities said.

The person, who has not been publicly identified, was reported missing to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. The ACSD, which had information that the missing person was in the area of MMC, called the Oak Ridge Police Department and asked that officers check the area for the person’s vehicle, a black Dodge Charger, a City of Oak Ridge press release said.

The ORPD responded to MMC at about 1:39 p.m. Sunday. [Read more…]


Tax rate increases, changes in AC, Clinton, Oliver Springs, RC, Rocky Top

Increases in the property tax rate have been approved or are anticipated in budgets that have already passed in Anderson County, Clinton, Oliver Springs, Roane County, and Rocky Top.

Those increases are in addition to the increases already expected because of a drop in overall property assessments in Anderson and Roane counties. The 4 percent drop in Anderson County and 3.47 percent decline in Roane County mean the tax-neutral rate—the rate meant to bring in the same amount of revenues after a reappraisal as before—goes up.

The highest tax increase, which includes a 6-cent change in the certified tax rate after five-year reappraisals, is 40 cents. That’s in Rocky Top, where the new tax rate is $2 per $100 of assessed value.

The lowest so far is in Anderson County, where county commissioners have approved a 10-cent increase for 2 percent pay raises for school and county employees. That’s in addition to the roughly 16-cent increase in the tax-neutral, or certified, tax rate.

Oak Ridge will be the last of those half-dozen governments to consider any changes to the tax-neutral rate. In Oak Ridge, the rate has been calculated at $2.52, up 13 cents from the current $2.39.

Oak Ridge could also be the only one of those half-dozen governments that doesn’t add a tax rate increase to this year’s higher tax-neutral rate. So far, it appears that a majority of Oak Ridge City Council members could support the $2.52 rate, although two Council members, Trina Baughn and Rick Chinn, have advocated for a reduction, possibly by two cents to $2.50.

Here is information on the increases or potential increases: [Read more…]

Oak Ridge may not increase tax rate above reappraisal change

Oak Ridge City Council 2014

The Oak Ridge City Council is pictured above in 2014. (Photo courtesy City of Oak Ridge)


Property tax rates are already expected to go up in local cities and counties because of an unprecedented drop in property assessments.

And additional increases have been approved or are anticipated in budgets that have already passed in Anderson County, Clinton, Oliver Springs, Roane County, and Rocky Top.

Oak Ridge could be the exception. The city could see an increase in the certified tax rate (state officials call it a tax-neutral rate) from $2.39 per $100 of assessed value to $2.52.

So far, no Oak Ridge City Council members have publicly endorsed raising taxes beyond the change in the tax-neutral rate required by the five-year reappraisals completed this year.

Four City Council members, a majority of the seven-member body, said during a budget work session on Tuesday that they will support the $2.52 tax-neutral rate or that it’s important to stay at that rate for now, until they have more information. [Read more…]

ORNL has 13 finalists for R&D 100 Award

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Sign

Thirteen technologies from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been selected as finalists for R&D 100 Awards, the annual technology prizes given by R&D Magazine. ORNL is lead developer in 10 of the technologies and a partner developer in another three technologies that made the finalist list.

R&D Magazine has changed the format of the annual awards substantially, with a list of finalists announced first. The competition also has new “Market Disruptor” and “Green Tech” categories, and finalists can be listed in those categories as well as the technical categories. ORNL has five Market Disruptor finalists and one Green Tech finalist.

The R&D 100 winners will be announced in November at an event in Las Vegas. Here are the finalists: [Read more…]

Oak Ridge High School Band has free preview show today

Oak Ridge High School Wild Band

Members of the 2015 Oak Ridge High School Wild Band are pictured above. (Submitted photo)


The Oak Ridge High School Band has a free Fall Preview Show at 6 p.m. today (Friday, July 24) on Blankenship Field.

“The students have been going strong during the past week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in preparation for ‘The Music of Bond,’” a press release said. “Come pick out your favorites from the ‘Bond Medley,’ which includes tunes from ‘Goldfinger,’ ‘Skyfall,’ ‘Live and Let Die,’ and of course Bond’s signature tune from ‘Goldeneye.'”

Due to parking lot construction at the lower ticket booth, entrance to the stadium will be only through the upper ticket booth on Kentucky Avenue. But no tickets are required, the press release said. [Read more…]

Oak Ridge Schools start Aug. 3

Oak Ridge Schools start Monday, August 3. It’s the first year under a new balanced calendar.

The first day of school, August 3, will be early dismissal for all students. The second day, Tuesday, August 4, will be early dismissal for elementary and middle school students.

Counselors and facilitators reported to work on July 13, and teachers will report on July 27.

The last day for students will be Friday, June 3, 2016. [Read more…]

Driver of pickup truck that killed one, injured nine charged with homicide

Lee Cromwell

Lee Cromwell

The driver of the Dodge Ram pickup truck that backed through the parking lot at Midtown Community Center after July 4 fireworks, killing one and injuring nine, has been charged with homicide, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment, authorities said.

Lee Cromwell, 65, was arrested at 11:40 a.m. Wednesday at the Oak Ridge Police Department without incident by patrol officers, authorities said.

Cromwell’s truck allegedly hit James Robinson, 37, of Knoxville, killing him, the ORPD said after the crash.

Cromwell has been charged with one count of vehicular homicide, one count of criminally negligent homicide, one count of reckless homicide, 12 counts of aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment, and one count of driving with a license that is suspended or revoked, Oak Ridge Police Chief Jim Akagi said. [Read more…]

ORHS teacher a state finalist for presidential teaching excellence award

Mary Elaine Vaughan

Mary Elaine Vaughan

Oak Ridge High School math teacher Elaine Vaughan has been named a Tennessee state finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, or PAEMST.

The PAEMST are the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science, a press release said. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

Vaughan is one of five finalists in mathematics for the 2015 PAEMST in Tennessee. Awardees will receive a certificate signed by President Barack Obama, a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. [Read more…]

ADFAC school supplies distribution under way

Clinton Fire Department and ADFAC School Supplies

Members of the Clinton Fire Department spend a morning packing school supplies, loading the fire truck, and delivering them to Clinton schools. (Submitted photo)


Since Thursday, July 9, volunteers from all over Anderson County have been sorting donated school supplies for Oak Ridge and Anderson County schools, packing them in bags and backpacks that are loaded into vehicles and distributing the packed items to classrooms.

Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties has been coordinating the collection, packing, and distribution of school supplies for 26 years. As a result, teachers aren’t obliged to spend their hard-earned money on items needed by their growing number of students from disadvantaged families.

Last year. ADFAC provided school supplies to more than 2,500 area students from disadvantaged families. This year, the local nonprofit service organization’s staff hopes to increase the number of school supplies by 12 percent with the help of ongoing support from the community. [Read more…]

TWRA officers rescue capsized kayakers from Clinch River in Clinton

CLINTON—Two wildlife officers from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency went into rescue mode late this evening, bringing a happy ending to what could have turned into a sad story, authorities said.

At around 5 p.m. Tuesday, Steve and Connie Hunter of Ten Mile, Tennessee, were enjoying a kayak float with their sons down the Clinch River near the Second Baptist Church in Clinton when both were capsized into 45 degree water. Their sons attempted to stay with them, but the strong current forced them downstream where they made it to shore and dialed 911.

TWRA Sergeant Roy Smith and Officer Jeff Roberson responded to the accident alongside Anderson County Rescue Squad, Clinton Police Department, and Anderson County Sheriff’s Department.

At around 5:20 p.m., Smith and Roberson located the Hunters clinging to a log overhanging the river. The officers brought the subjects into their patrol boat and transported them to shore where they were assessed by Anderson County EMS and released. [Read more…]