Roane State educators complete record-breaking 73-day underwater stay

Bruce Cantrell and Jessica Fain Surface

Roane State professors Jessica Fain and Bruce Cantrell enjoy their first moments of sunlight after living underwater for 73 days. (Photos by Roane State Community College)


KEY LARGO, Florida—After a record-breaking 73 days living underwater, two local college professors surfaced Monday and enjoyed the feel of sunlight for the first time in more than two months.

They also celebrated the end of their mission to educate the public about ocean conservation, to inspire young people’s interest in science, and to make history.

Biology professor Bruce Cantrell and adjunct professor Jessica Fain from Roane State Community College in East Tennessee spent the fall living and working in Jules’ Undersea Lodge, an underwater habitat on Key Largo in Florida. Their underwater stay lasted 73 days, two hours, and 34 minutes, breaking the world record for longest time spent living underwater.

The two educators submerged October 3 at 12:08 p.m. EDT and surfaced on Monday, December 15, at 1:42 p.m. EST.

“There is a sun,” Cantrell said with a laugh as he and Fain broke the surface of the water. [Read more…]

TVA: Kingston Ash Recovery Project nears completion

TVA Kingston Fossil Plant Dike C Reinforcement

TVA Kingston Fossil Plant Dike C reinforcement (Photos courtesy TVA)


The Tennessee Valley Authority is in the final stages of the Kingston recovery project. The public utility says it’s fulfilling a promise to restore the area surrounding the Kingston Fossil Plant near Harriman following the coal ash spill in December 2008, the largest ash spill in U.S. history.

A major milestone was reached in early December, with the completion of the cover for a 240-acre permanent ash retention landfill. The new landfill, which has been fortified with an underground earthquake-resistant wall anchored in bedrock, is covered by a flexible-membrane liner and geo-composite fabric, two feet of clay, topsoil, and grass.

“We all know this incident shouldn’t have happened,” said TVA President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson, who visited the recovery site on December 17. “But we have learned from it and we are fulfilling our commitment to making it right.”

TVA says it’s also keeping its promise by returning the Emory River and surrounding waterways to pre-spill conditions, reforesting and adding vegetation to surrounding land, stabilizing shorelines, and adding wetlands and other wildlife habitats. TVA has opened Lakeshore Park, which features 32 acres of walking trails, fishing piers, a boat ramp, and docks. [Read more…]

Suspect arrested in shooting death of former Hardin Valley football player

The suspect in the fatal shooting of a former Hardin Valley football player in west Knox County on Saturday was arrested on Wednesday, authorities said.

Jack Bush, 19, turned himself in at the City-County Building just before 1 p.m. Wednesday, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said. He was charged with voluntary manslaughter and was released on a $10,000 bond.

The shooting occurred just after 1 a.m. Saturday, December 13. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office said Bush came out of his home at 7777 Christen Lee Circle in west Knox County and confronted 19-year-old Evan Hall in the street. During the confrontation, Bush shot Hall, the Sheriff’s Office said. Hall was pronounced dead on the scene by Rural Metro.

Hall was a former Hardin Valley offensive lineman. He graduated in 2013.

Photos: Welcome home for Afghanistan vet

Oak Ridge Fire Department Tower Truck

The Oak Ridge Fire Department and its tower truck help welcome home an Afghanistan veteran on Saturday. (Pictures by Tom Scott)


The Oak Ridge community and the Oak Ridge Fire Department welcomed Sgt. Charles Dozema upon his return from a nine-month tour in Afghanistan at the intersection of the Oak Ridge Turnpike on Saturday afternoon.

Here are a few pictures by Tom Scott. [Read more…]

After tip, investigative work, sex offender wanted in Sullivan arrested in Heiskell

Glen Reed Keller

Glen Reed Keller

After a tip by a resident and investigative work by dispatchers, Anderson County deputies on Tuesday arrested a man in Heiskell who was wanted by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office in Blountville for violating the sexual offender registry.

Glen Reed Keller, 43, was arrested Tuesday evening at a home on White Oak Lane in Heiskell community, Anderson County  Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said.

The Anderson County Communications Center had received a tip from a citizen who had watched a news report on television concerning Keller. Dispatchers had seen the same broadcast. The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office had sent a news release to the local media in the Tri-Cities, area which was shared with a local TV outlet in Knoxville, Lucas said. [Read more…]

Roane sheriff seeks help solving Rocky Top robbery

Rocky Top Midtown Robbery

The Rocky Top Market in Midtown was robbed on December 7, and the Roane County Sheriff’s Office is asking for help solving the crime, authorities said.

A man entered the Rocky Top store at about 2:35 a.m. Sunday, December 7, and demanded cash, a press release said.

The suspect is considered armed and dangerous, the release said. Anyone with information is asked to call the Roane County Sheriff’s Office at (865) 717-4722 or the anonymous tip line at (865) 717-4217, or contact authorities through the sheriff’s website at or through a private message on Facebook.

Update: Y-12 spill involved less than one gallon of flammable solvent

Y-12 National Security Complex Scarboro Road Entrance

The Scarboro Road entrance to the Y-12 National Security Complex is pictured above in March 2014. (File photo)

Note: This story was last updated at 3:34 p.m.

The chemical spill at the Y-12 National Security Complex on Tuesday morning involved less than one gallon of a flammable solvent, and the substance has evaporated, a federal official said Tuesday afternoon.

The spilled solvent was acetonitrile, and it’s used in chemical processing at Y-12’s Purification Facility, said Steven Wyatt of the National Nuclear Security Administration.

It spilled onto the floor at about 10:24 a.m. Tuesday. The cause is unknown. The spill was detected by sensors. There was no fire and no injuries.

Wyatt said the acetonitrile was not involved in uranium enrichment work at Y-12. [Read more…]

Update: Y-12 chemical spill contained; less than 10 workers in building at time of spill

Y-12 Aerial Photo June 2012

The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge is pictured above in June 2012. (Photo courtesy NNSA)


Note: This story was last updated at 1:12 p.m.

The Purification Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge was evacuated Tuesday morning after a chemical spill, officials said. Fewer than 10 people were in the building at the time of the spill, and none were in the immediate area.

There were no injuries, and federal officials and Y-12 staff have accounted for all workers, the National Nuclear Security Administration said.

The spilled material is acetonitrile, a liquid solvent used in chemical processing operations, said Steven Wyatt of the NNSA.

Everyone was evacuated from the building, which is on the east end of the plant, Wyatt said. The spill was reported at 10:24 a.m. Tuesday.

[Read more…]

Hibachi Pizza open in Oliver Springs

Hibachi Pizza Ribbon-cutting

Hibachi Pizza owners Michael Pfeiffer and Darian Crossno recently celebrated their grand opening with an Anderson County Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting and Business After Hours. (Submitted photo)


Hibachi Pizza owners Michael Pfeiffer and Darian Crossno recently celebrated their grand opening with an Anderson County Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting.

Hibachi Pizza is located at 526 East Tri-County Boulevard in Oliver Springs.

The restaurant opened July 16 where Mountain Pizza used to be. It’s affiliated with Hibachi Burger in Oak Ridge and specializes in Japanese and American cuisine such as hibachi, burgers, sandwiches, and pizza.

The restaurant is open from 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 3 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Hibachi Pizza is closed on Sunday. [Read more…]

Remembered as a model community volunteer, Myrick died Sunday

Tim and Teresa Myrick with ADFAC Bow Tie Award

Tim Myrick, left, received the 2014 Bill Wilcox Bow Tie Award from ADFAC on Oct. 30. Pictured with Myrick at Y-12’s New Hope Center is his wife Teresa. (Photo courtesy ADFAC)

Note: This story was last updated at 3:30 p.m.

Tim Myrick, one of the area’s most active community volunteers, died Sunday morning. He was at home with his wife Teresa by his side.

Friends are remembering him as a model community leader and volunteer. Myrick, who had been battling prostate cancer, had provided decades of service to the church and to Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties, or ADFAC, as well as to Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County. He played a key role in the renovation of Oak Ridge High School and modernization work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In 2012, he and Teresa pledged $25,000 to the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation’s “Making the Critical Difference” campaign for grants and scholarships.

“We sure lost a strong advocate for our community,” said friend D. Ray Smith, who serves on both the ADFAC and Habitat for Humanity boards. [Read more…]

Piper, Prine win 2014 Postma Young Professional Medals

Cortney Piper and Betsy Prine

Cortney Piper, left, and Betsy Prine, right (Photo courtesy East Tennessee Economic Council)


Cortney Piper and Betsy Prine received Postma Young Professional Medals on Friday at the East Tennessee Economic Council’s annual year-end celebration.

The Postma Medal was created by the East Tennessee Economic Council to honor the accomplishments of young professionals who have made an impact and fostered a community culture in the region. Former Oak Ridge National Laboratory director Herman Postma epitomized this spirit during his life, and his wife Pat continues the tradition of service today through her involvement in the Oak Ridge community. Pat Postma made the award presentation at the Council’s annual meeting on Friday at the DoubleTree Hotel. [Read more…]

Mason, Coffey receive 2014 Muddy Boot Awards

Thom Mason and David Coffey

Thom Mason, left, and David Coffey, right (Photo courtesy East Tennessee Economic Council)


Two titans of East Tennessee’s business community were honored Friday with the Muddy Boot Award, given by the East Tennessee Economic Council in an ongoing tribute to individuals who through their work and activities build a better community.

This year’s honorees were Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and leader of other  state and local organizations, and David Coffey, a serial entrepreneur, past member of the Tennessee General Assembly, and a leader in promoting better education in the state.

ETEC also presented two Postma Young Professional Medals. Betsy Prine, a vice president of Gilmartin Engineering Services, and Cortney Piper, principal of Piper Communications, received the medals. The Economic Council’s annual celebratory event was keynoted by Tennessee Commissioner of Finance and Administration Larry Martin. University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro and Pete Craven also participated, with the event chaired by Bonnie Carroll of Information International Associates. [Read more…]